Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Teach Me How to Teach NOT What to Teach

Today is the last day of ISTE and I’m not there. I am following a lot of conversation from there on Twitter though. One thing that is coming up is that a lot of the computer science related professional development there is for beginners and/or for K-8 teachers. Now this is wonderful but it is not what I need.

Sarah Judd had a couple of wonderful tweets that sum things up for me.



Some of us have a lot of content knowledge. This is especially true for career changers from industry such as myself. It is equally true for many teachers who have been teaching for some number of years. What many of us need is more about how to teach. In a word pedagogy.

I don’t mean “here is this robot and here are some example projects and code” and that sort of thing. I mean that is nice and all but it is usually a lot more about the tool and not the pedagogy. We are finally seeing some real research in how to teach computer science better. I’ve personally learned a lot from papers submitted to the SIGCSE conference and I’d really like to attend in person again.

The problem with SIGCSE for a lot of teachers is it at a tough time to get away for a lot of us. And there is that whole perception (not 100% wrong) that it is for higher education educators.

ISTE is going to be highly focused on beginners for some time to come. I don’t have a problem with that. I think ISTE can have a large impact on generating awareness among school administrators and technology integrators and teachers who are really serious about preparing students for a modern world that includes computers.

CSTA is the group I think should really increase their focus on training teachers how to teach. I would love to see a pedagogy track at the 2019 conference. 

Let’s hear about people using Parsons Problems, sub goal labeling, and other techniques. (BTW maybe take a look at How To Teach Computer Science where I talk about some of this) How about some case studies of project based learning? Not with a focus on the projects but with a focus on evaluation, maintaining student progress, and what does and doesn’t work about them?

I am reminded of a conversation with a peer when I was an undergraduate. Someone asked him why he was a business major when he grew up on a farm and planned to stay in the family business. Why not agriculture? He replied that he knew how to farm. Modern farming is also a business and that is the peace he didn’t learn growing up. Those of us who “grew up” in the computer science field know about computer science. Now we need help becoming bettor teachers.


Mr C said...

Agreed! I think you should broaden your target audience... In a couple years, today's new-to-cs teachers will need this too. True educators will grow in their capabilities and begin customizing any pre-made materials for the students in their classroom.

I would love it if today's K-12 CS Curriculum creators would highlight the pedagogy and research behind their material. In the likely scenario that there isn't much, the publishers should adopt the growth mindset and facilitate it!

Side note: I think the new-to-cs teachers will also need more computer science experience. No one gets a science teaching job with only 2 weeks of science experience. Google's Summer Of Code would be a neat model for extending mentored real-world cs experience.

Mike Zamansky said...

You know I've got something to say about this :-)

Post coming soon.

Garth said...

Doug Bergman needs to expand his book. Instead of a 1/2 inch thick it will become 2 inches thick. I am rooting for him.

Unknown said...

Check out Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL), and materials developed for CS. POGIL workshops focus on how to teach, not what - we typically have participants from a range of disciplines and levels.


Garth said...

Weird, I am in a POGIL based CS curriculum week long workshop right now.

Mike Zamansky said...

Some thoughts:

Anonymous said...

Thank you. If I attend one more PD session that tells me how to "teach computer science" by handing kids the Kodable app, or creating accounts, I'm going to lose my mind. Teachers (including me) need help takin those skills and teaching kids how to apply them to real world projects and situations. I feel like so many of these "coding" sites and curriculums are no better than just playing and memorizing video games...

Unknown said...

Hi Garth,
What "POGIL based" workshop are you attending?
Some people adopt a few POGIL practices and claim they do POGIL, but don't.
(Like a software team that uses a few practices from XP or Scrum.)
I think the POGIL Project's 3-day summer workshops are all in July.


Garth said...

It is a Mobile CSP workshop. Mobile CSP is centered around POGIL. We learn the technique and do some practice exercises with it. I have a feeling in practice it goes by the wayside and the teacher will use what they are more familiar with.

Unknown said...

The Mobile CSP materials I have seen use some elements of POGIL, but would not be considered true POGIL activities.

I highly recommend the POGIL Project's 3-day summer workshops, which use POGIL practices to help teachers learn how POGIL works, and how to use POGIL in their classrooms. They definitely focus on "how to teach" not "what to teach", and attract teachers from a variety of disciplines and levels.