For the last three years, KCI’s Computer Science Crash Course for Educators has been a hit with educators who want to learn more about how to integrate CS into their curriculum and classrooms. And 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.
According to a Google study, 62% of principles report that one of the main obstacles to offering CS classes is a lack of teachers trained in CS.
Many corporations support CS education not just because of vested interests, but because it serves the overall needs of the nation as well. It is well known that computer science can offer our students higher levels of employment and more social mobility. Microsoft Corporation is a company stepping up to support CS education, and KCI is pleased to be the recipient of a grant for the 2019-2010 CS Crash Course programs. Microsoft has generously supported the short, half-day CS workshops KCI has been conducting since fall 2018, and the new grant will allow KCI to offer three 28-hour Crash Course programs for up to 90 teachers, starting this summer through next spring. KCI will also continue to offer short, half-day workshops.
One of the main goals of the Crash Course is to show teachers that CS is more than just coding. Topics covered during the program include algorithms, data, the internet and the impact of computing. The reach of CS in several fields is demonstrated, and the participants gain practice in computational thinking and the problem solving aspects of CS. Participants also learn to code and can choose between Scratch or Python programming for their projects.
Besides building confidence in the CS concepts and coding, the program models successful teaching practices since it is designed and taught by teachers who are active in middle and high school classrooms. The instructors effectively model lessons coupled with discussion on specific challenges teachers may face in teaching CS. Differentiation strategies to deal with struggling and advanced students, projects that include choice and use collaboration, and engaging all students with a focus on girls and minorities, are specifically discussed.