KCI recognized the need for computer science professional development programs over four years ago, even as schools and districts were still trying to determine how CS fits within their curriculum offerings. Last September, the State Board of Education adopted California’s first-ever computer science standards. Although not mandatory, these standards are expected to increase the number of CS classes taught in California. Teachers are highly interested in CS professional learning, and the KCI Computer Crash Course for Educators has become one of KCI’s most popular programs.
With funding from Microsoft, KCI offered two Crash Course programs this summer, and 50 teachers and educational coaches completed the programs. One of the main goals of the Crash Course is to show teachers that CS is more than coding. Topics covered during the program are broad based, including algorithms, data, internet and the impact of computing. The participants gain practice in computational thinking and the problem-solving aspect of CS. Participants also learn to code, choosing either Scratch or Python to pursue for their projects.
Besides building confidence in the CS concepts and coding, the program models successful teaching practice since it is designed and taught by teachers who are active in middle and high school classrooms. The CS instructional team, led by Sheena Vaidyanathan, included Ann Greyson, Ed Campos, Chris Bell and Jessica Hexel, all CS teachers in local and regional schools. One teacher commented, “The instructors were fantastic! All were extremely knowledgeable, approachable and supportive. They did a great job differentiating for all of the different learners in the class and modeled what adjusting instruction based on student needs looks like.”
At the end of the programs, 100% of the participants stated they would recommend the program. Feedback was positive as participants confirmed that the program met or exceeded their expectations. “I learned some great new applications of coding. I learned some basics of the internet which I didn’t know. I definitely had my mind opened to the value of introducing/exposing students to computer science concepts which I may have not fully considered before,” noted one of the participants.