To mark Computer Science Education Week (click here), Aldine ISD schools will participate in Code.org’s global Hour of Code the week of December 3–7. Hour of Code (click here) is a one-hour introduction to computer science designed to get students interested in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field and programming.
We live in a world surrounded by technology. And we know that whatever field our students choose to go into as adults, their ability to succeed will increasingly depend on understanding how technology works. But only a tiny fraction of us are learning how technology works. A survey of high school students shows that computer science ranks among their favorite subjects, behind only graphic design and performing arts. Data recently collected from schools across the U.S. showed only 35 percent of all high schools teach rigorous computer science courses. When this field is leading students to the highest-paying, fastest-growing jobs in the U.S. and is a subject students love to take, that’s a big problem.
That’s why Aldine ISD is joining in on the largest learning event in history — Hour of Code. The event takes place every year during Computer Science Education Week, the first week in December. Hour of Code began as a one-hour coding challenge to give students a fun first introduction to computer science and has become a global learning event, celebration, and awareness event. More than 100 million students worldwide have already tried an Hour of Code.
Shaina Glass, a computer science/STEM coordinator and digital learning specialist with Aldine ISD, will join others from around the country in Seattle, Washington for Code.org’s kick-off (Dec. 3-4) for Computer Science (CS) Education Week. Each year, Code.org hosts a signature event to celebrate the accomplishments of the CS education community, make new announcements and for advocates to make pledges to K-12 computer science. Glass will have the opportunity to meet teachers and administrators to learn how they are making opportunities for students to study computer science in all kinds of ways. This year’s featured speaker will be Melinda Gates, who is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“As a District, we are making a national pledge to provide computer science to all middle schools students,” Glass said. “We seek to expand computer science education pathways from elementary to high school students.”
The District’s Instructional Technology Department and Library Services Office have been working with teachers and information literacy specialists (ILSs) to create opportunities for students to try computer science for at least one hour during the week. Classroom participation will include discussions about Hour of Code and why participation is important, learning and understanding new coding vocabulary words, online coding activities, and offline coding activities like robotics and classroom work. Activities at each school may vary.
The departments and schools have coordinated to have middle school computer science students visit several elementary schools across the District to teach coding to youngsters in Grades 1-5. Hour of Code activities will take place in every elementary school. If middle school students aren’t able to visit a campus, a District digital learning specialist (DLS) will be present to work alongside information literacy specialists (ILSs aka librarians) to engage students in coding activities.
“Computational thinking is an important skill for our students to have,” said Cindy Buchanan, program director for library services. “Computational thinking is on par with reading, writing and math. It is great that Computer Science Education Week puts the spotlight on one of the most sought–after skills. However, parents should be aware that we give students these critical thinking opportunities every day. Through our library MakerSpaces, students can build these skills as well as take part in coding events and other campus–based projects.”
Mon., Dec. 3: To kick off Hour of Code, a digital learning specialist will visit every elementary school. All ILSs will be hosting Hour of Code in the school libraries. The Instructional Technology Department is providing materials for activities with BakerRipley sponsoring consumables.
Tues., Dec. 4: Students from the following middle schools will be facilitating Hour of Code activities at several elementary schools.
Stovall MS —> Odom ES
Shotwell MS —> Conley ES
Jones MS —> Johnson ES
García MS —> Hill ES
Houston Academy —> Caraway ES
Wed, Dec. 5: Students from the following middle schools will be facilitating Hour of Code activities at several elementary schools.
Hoffman MS —> Smith ES
Hambrick MS —> Oleson ES
Drew Academy —> Harris ES
Mead MS —> Stephens ES
Teague MS —> Cypresswood ES
Thur., Dec. 6: Students from the following middle schools will be facilitating Hour of Code activities at several elementary schools.
Grantham Academy —> Reed Academy
Aldine MS —> Marcella ES
Plummer MS —> Spence ES
Lewis MS —> Parker ES
Fri., Dec. 7: The coding clubs from Black Elementary School and Greenspoint Elementary School will head to The Woodlands Mall to take part in Code-org events at the Microsoft and Apple stores.
District leaders hope families, community members and legislators will join Aldine ISD Dec. 3-7 in supporting K-12 computer science and help us bring the opportunities that computer science offers to our students. Please RSVP with Shaina Glass by phone at (713) 539-8620 or via email at [email protected] Who should RSVP? Parents, community members, Aldine ISD Board of Trustees, District leadership, and any media outlets should RSVP. This will helps campuses taking part to be better prepared to accommodate visitors.
Currently, Texas requires all high schools to offer CS. However, there is no dedicated state funding for CS professional development or any K-12 CS curriculum standards. Superintendent Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney supports technology education and will visit schools to experience Hour of Code activities firsthand.
“Computer science education is something we hope state leaders will look to support to for students in kindergarten through high school,” said Goffney. “We should infuse computational thinking skills into our curriculum. These skills prepare students for success as 21st century learners.
“Everyone in the District is committed to providing equity for our students, but we need support from state legislators. We must infuse computational thinking skills starting in kindergarten. Engaging students in computer science education helps to level the playing field for all students.“
Computer science opens more doors for students than any other discipline in today’s world. Learning even the basics will help students in virtually any career—from architecture to zoology. Just as we teach students how to dissect a frog, or how electricity works, it’s important for every 21st century student to have a chance to design an app or an algorithm, or learn how the Internet works.
Computer science is changing every industry on the planet. Every 21st-century student should have the opportunity to learn how to create technology. Computer science concepts also help nurture creativity and problem-solving skills to prepare students for any future career. Computing gives all students an economic opportunity in their future. Computing occupations are the fastest-growing, best paying, and now the largest sector of all new wages in the US. Every child deserves the opportunity to succeed.
Computer science (CS) education varies across the U.S. Some states requires CS in high school but do not have any requirements for the lower grade levels. This is an issue policymakers need to solve. Across the U.S., many students do not have access to computer science courses—particularly in underrepresented populations (including underserved minority students, rural areas, and female students). When this field is leading students to the highest-paying, fastest-growing jobs in the U.S. and is a subject students love to take, that’s a big problem.
Did you know …
To continue bringing programming activities to your students, we want to make our Hour of Code event huge. District leaders encourage you to volunteer, reach out to local media, share the news on social media channels and consider hosting additional Hour of Code events in the community.
This is a chance to change the future of education in Aldine ISD.
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