Computer Science is defined by the Colorado Department of Education as “the study of computers, algorithmic processes, and computer programming and coding, including their principles, their hardware and software designs, their applications, and their impact on society.” It is clear that CS is an integral part of our day-to-day lives; after all, consider the devices and machines we use on a regular basis. Additionally, some of the best career opportunities are in computer science fields. Recognizing this, St. Vrain Valley Schools has been working hard over the past four years to support and guide teachers in bringing CS to ALL students.
During the 2017-18 school year, 18 teachers from throughout the district participated in our inaugural Computer Science Collaborative. A collaborative is a specific professional development model that brings together a diverse group for an extended time to explore a shared topic: in this case, computer science. One of the benefits of a collaborative approach to professional development is that teachers from different schools and grade levels have the opportunity to work and learn together.
Through discussions, research and meetings with professionals in the field, each teacher group identified ways that they could bring computer science into their schools and classrooms. Our elementary teachers found ways to integrate computer science into what they currently teach. Middle school teachers explored integration as well, but also began developing CS-specific units and classes. High school teachers discussed the need for a common scope-and-sequence and developed ideas for classes at all levels.
We’re excited that our collaborative will continue on next year, and that, through a grant we received from Google, we are able to more than double the number of teachers participating!