Thursday, September 29, 2016

There's a Science to It! Google's CS First

Amber Klebanoff
Google Certified Trainer
Google Certified Admin
Twitter: @emergingteched

After completing the Hour of Code two years ago, I came across CS First when a Fifth grade teacher wanted to find a way to continue working on coding with her students but through a systematic approach. Here came in CS First.

Even though CS First has been created with the idea that it be used as an after-school club, we decided to infuse this program directly into the teacher’s classroom. It has great CCSS and ISTE alignments and can easily fit into most any curriculum. Before we began though, we needed to make a few adjustments.  

CS First is created for a 75-90 minute sessions, for which I was not going to have the students (maybe between 30-45 minutes); therefore I created a Google Sheet to tell me where each student would end off on each day (i.e. Activity 1 video 4). This spreadsheet helped myself and the cooperating teacher know where the students were throughout the course of the sessions, know when students were absent and maintain and understanding of which students were moving ahead and which were struck on a specific activity (see example spreadsheet).  

As the students continued working throughout the year, more and more classes came on board, and this class became the “Gurus” to other classes! They mentored the Third graders every Friday, and we even found that students that were hesitant or confused when working with a teacher, flourished when working with other students.  

While the students worked through their activities, I videoed to create a YouTube Playlist with them answering three questions:

  • What are you doing?
  • Why are you doing it?
  • How do you like coding?

The responses are mesmerizing from both Fifth and Third graders. Students were able to have a voice not just through their coding, but also through these videos. I shared these with the CS First team and through Twitter and the responses were great. Students were able to understand that what they were doing mattered, and, Jaime Sue Goodman, one of the leads on the CS First Team, even spoke about one specific student in her TEDX Talk “Lucky is a Lie”.  

By the end of the year, this core group of students had completed two CS First “Clubs” and even a Scratch project creating musical instruments with MakeyMakeys. Their overall reading and Math scores had improved and students felt more confident of themselves as learners and thinkers!

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