Summer is the perfect time to explore new curriculum.
Computer science is an ideal addition to the elementary/middle school classroom. No longer limited to a separate high school advanced placement class, computer science can be seemless integrated into many core academic subjects. I highly recommend that you take the time to explore the CSTA’s (Computer Science Teacher’s Assocation www.csta.acm.org) new K-8 publication, Computer Science K–8: Building a Strong Foundation.
The publication is ready for download at: csta.acm.org/Curriculum/sub/CSK8.html
It provides a review of current thought on K–8 CS education, explores how CS topics and concepts can impact learning the K–8 classroom, and offers practical strategies and resources. Here you will find updates on research from higher education including a study at Harvey Mudd College on a new approach to teaching middle school CS curriculum, ideas on teaching CS skills by playing criminal detective using databases, and suggestions for planning afterschool and summer CS camps.
Computer Science K–8: Building a Strong Foundation provides plans for integrating CS into classes as diverse as fine arts and mathematics, and the personal experiences of dozens of classroom teachers using a wide variety of tools and techniques. Examples abound. Multi-media stories can be crafted in language arts classes, multi-level computer games can be designed in mathematics, and art and music projects can be delivered through electronic media. And of course, problem solving is an integral part of any CS activity.
Increasing high-quality CS content in K–8 education may help reverse students’ alarming enrollment and career-choice trends by illustrating, for all students, the potential for personal power afforded by computing skills. Researchers are considering the possibility that early exposure will translate into increased enrollment and a life-time engagement in CS. It is believed that positive experiences at an early age will motivate students to further explore the opportunities that a CS education has to offer. It’s important to take advantage of this developmental stage to build a CS literate and functional population. It is in everyone’s best interest and we have the tools to make it happen.
Patrice Gans, CSTA K-8 Task Force Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org