When the new mathematics curriculum was launched in Ontario, many teachers had conflicting feelings. On one hand, there has been increasing awareness among educators about the importance of teaching computer science and digital skills early on, as these are vital to the jobs of the future. On the other hand, teachers were also feeling underprepared – many teachers had never interacted with computer science and coding, and they were unsure as to how they were supposed to bring this vital subject to their classrooms in a meaningful way.
At STEM Minds, we have always been passionate about supporting teachers and recognizing the realities of the modern classroom, so we were eager to help ease these concerns and empower teachers to bring computer science to their students through tangible training resources.
In the spirit of Computer Science Education Week (CSEd Week), we provided a series of workshops, graciously funded by Microsoft, for both teachers and students. CSEd Week is an annual initiative to inspire K–12 students to learn computer science, while empowering and supporting teachers. During this week, the Hour of Code takes place – a one–hour introduction to computer science, which serves to demystify coding and show that everybody can participate in the exciting world of computer science.
Leading up to CSEd Week, we offered four free professional development workshops for teachers. The aim of these workshops was to support teachers in building their coding confidence, familiarizing them with the new Ontario curriculum expectations, and helping them bring the Hour of Code to their classrooms. The workshops varied in topics, and included “Coding with Micro:Bit” and “Video Game Design with MakeCode Arcade“. Teachers walked away with end–to–end experience in meaningful lessons and activities they could introduce to their students.
During CSEd Week, we also hosted daily live- streamed workshops for Grade 4-8 classrooms to introduce students to coding and allow them to gain hands–on experience. These classroom workshops offered teachers a flexible way to integrate coding into their teaching, and allowed us to reach learners and educators across the province.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOPS
Our professional development workshops reached 203 teachers. At the start of the sessions, 85% of teachers rated themselves as “not at all confident” or only “somewhat confident” with teaching coding. We were very pleased that following these sessions, 96% of teachers stated that their confidence had improved. Every teacher stated that the training was useful for their classroom and 96% stated that they would recommend the to a colleague.
While anyone can take time to sit and learn on their own, there is a level of empowerment brought about by learning from fellow teachers. Being together in a community, we hear experiences and see best practices in a more concise way than when we explore on our own. Thank you for this session!
Thanks for the opportunity to learn more about coding! I have taken a few of the webinars now and my confidence is growing. I love that the activities align with the new coding expectations in the 2020 math curriculum.
Great instruction and presentation quality! I was impressed with the instructor’s verbal fluency/ continuity, energy, and structure. She was incredibly easy to follow with a good sense of humour to keep the topic from going dry and was also able to simplify programming _____concepts well so that the average person can understand.
LIVE-STREAMED CLASSROOM WORKSHOPS
We were also very pleased by the feedback we received from the live–streamed classroom workshops we hosted during CSEd Week, which were attended by over 545 classrooms, reaching a total of 12,089 students. Prior to the workshops, every teacher rated themselves as “not at all” or “only somewhat” confident in teaching coding. Following the session, 89% of teachers said that their confidence had improved. The workshops received an average rating of 4.6/5 stars from teachers and a 4.4/5 star rating for overall engagement by students. 95% of teachers also stated that they would continue using the tools introduced following the workshop and that they would recommend the workshops to a colleague.
This teacher PD and student workshop has been one of the most effective activities I have ever enrolled in! The facilitator was expertly paced and the content was directly connected to the curriculum. Thank you for this extraordinary resource!
This was the first time my students (and myself) had done a coding workshop and we all really enjoyed it! The was very informative and walked the kids through each step so they were able to follow along regardless of their level of coding abilities!
The students were very engaged and excited right from the first day of creating the rock, paper, scissors game. It progresses well through out the week and they really like the instructor. He was enthusiastic and engaged them throughout the whole process.
This workshop was a great start to introducing the new curriculum to the students. It helped those who haven’t had any coding experience and challenged those who did!