1. Amy Moreland
  2. https://cs.uteach.utexas.edu/staff-directory/amy-moreland
  3. UTeach Computer Science Coordinator
  4. UTeach Computer Science Principles
  5. http://uteachcs.org
  6. University of Texas at Austin, UTeach Institute, UTeach Computer Science
  1. Michael DeGraff
  2. Teacher Support Specialist
  3. UTeach Computer Science Principles
  4. http://uteachcs.org
  5. UTeach Computer Science, University of Texas at Austin, UTeach Institute
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Amy Moreland

    Amy Moreland

    Presenter
    May 14, 2017 | 05:30 p.m.

    Welcome and thank you for taking a few minutes to watch our video and learn a bit more about the UTeach CS Principles curriculum! We are very proud to be able to work within the K12 CS Principles framework and present a model curriculum that is dedicated, at its very core, to the notion of broadening participation among students not typically represented in the CS field. 

    We believe that learning within a project-based classroom can heighten the conceptual understanding of all students using collaborative learning processes that encourage problem solving, critical thinking, and group communication. 

     
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    Michael DeGraff
  • Icon for: Michael DeGraff

    Michael DeGraff

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2017 | 12:08 a.m.

    Thanks for stopping by to watch our video. We're excited to be able to discuss our Computer Science Principles curriculum as we wrap up our first full year of implementation (students took the AP CSP exam a little over a week ago!). 

     

    Mike 

     
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  • Icon for: Neil Plotnick

    Neil Plotnick

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2017 | 06:07 p.m.

    It is interesting to see another curriculum in what is an increasingly diverse number of AP level courses. I am wondering what types of introductory level CS classes the students are using or if the majority of them are getting their first CS instruction using your curriculum. I would also like to know more about the types of lessons that are being used. The Uteach CS Brochure does not include information on the language being used for the programming units.

     
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  • Icon for: Michael DeGraff

    Michael DeGraff

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2017 | 07:20 p.m.

    You can find more detailed information about the course here: https://cs.uteach.utexas.edu/curriculum-and-tea...

    In our curriculum, we assume no CS specific knowledge for incoming students. The only prerequisite from the College Board for AP CSP is Algebra 1.

    The AP CS Principles course is language agnostic, we use Scratch and Processing for our curriculum. Each of these platforms has been designed to provide beginning students with a simplified and novice-friendly interface with which to write their first dynamic and highly engaging programs. The tools for both environments are platform-independent and freely available online, so schools and students can run these applications and develop their own programs on any available computer without having to purchase any additional software or licenses.

    Scratch (https://scratch.mit.edu)

    Developed by the MIT Media Lab, Scratch offers students an introduction to coding through the use of a visual programming interface. By dragging and dropping labeled programming components (a.k.a., "blocks") that snap together into syntactically correct compositions, students can quickly construct robust and fully functional programs with very little prior programming knowledge or skill. This block-based programming environment is ideally suited to first-time programmers as it abstracts away much of the low-level implementation details and allows students to clearly focus on the more generalized concepts that are so fundamental to the art of computational thinking.

    Processing (https://processing.org)

    Built atop the Java programming language, Processing offers a simplified syntax and graphical programming model that allows novice programmers to easily develop visually dynamic programs using a high-level programming language. For students who have already been exposed to the drag-and-drop programming of a blocks-based language like Scratch, the introduction of Processing helps them make the transition to the text-based experience of a procedural programming language. And by leveraging the syntax and structure of an industrial language like Java, Processing makes it easier for students to later more easily adopt Java (as is used in AP Computer Science A), C++, or Python a number of other, similar languages that they might encounter in industry or continued studies in computer science.

     
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    Amy Moreland
  • Icon for: Barbara Ericson

    Barbara Ericson

    Researcher
    May 16, 2017 | 02:46 p.m.

    Did you consider Python instead of Processing?  While processing is a simplified version of Java, it still uses Java syntax.  There are many free online environments for Python too.

     
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  • Icon for: Amy Moreland

    Amy Moreland

    Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 07:17 p.m.

    Hi Barbara, great question!

     

    Our curricular designers did say that Python was considered as an alternative because of its easy syntactical learning curve, but Processing allows the students to begin learning some Java syntax that could be useful in AP CSA. There are also some online IDEs that allow for Processing to be done through the browser.

     
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  • Icon for: Nicole Reitz-Larsen

    Nicole Reitz-Larsen

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2017 | 10:20 a.m.

    I appreciate your focus on increasing access, improving engagement and broadening participation of students who might not take a computer science course.

     

    Do you mind sharing a little more about how you work with teachers, schools or districts to increase engagement with a wider student population who might not sign up for a computer science course on their own.

     

    I'd also like to hear more about the project based instruction that you use with the various roles and role playing to engage the learners.

     

    You also mentioned in-service for teachers and on going support, what does that look like for novice cs teaches as well as seasoned teachers who may feel like they have enough students currently in their CS courses and don't need to reach out to others. 

     
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  • Icon for: Michael DeGraff

    Michael DeGraff

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2017 | 02:35 p.m.

    Thanks for the great questions!

    For a look into our projects you can see the anchor videos that introduce the unit projects: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpxLusH4quY&amp...

    Each unit has a project so students take on several roles through out the semester.

    Our support includes either a 5-day face-to-face training or 40 online training. During the school year, teachers participate in a virtual community through Piazza. We also host several webinars and provide on demand support through 2 teacher support specialists.

     
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  • Icon for: Nicole Reitz-Larsen

    Nicole Reitz-Larsen

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2017 | 12:29 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing. I'm sure the 5 day training is helpful and the Piazza community is great to get teacher talking with one another during the year as they are going through the curriculum.

     
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    Amy Moreland
  • Icon for: Debra Bernstein

    Debra Bernstein

    Researcher
    May 17, 2017 | 04:25 p.m.

    Thanks for the video, and the info about the curriculum.  (and for the links to the anchor videos - which are great!).  I was wondering 2 things... had most of the teachers who taught UTeach CSP this year ever taught CS before?  Also, how did you recruit the teachers to do the course?

     
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  • Icon for: Amy Moreland

    Amy Moreland

    Presenter
    May 18, 2017 | 10:28 a.m.

    Hi Debra,

    We trained 172 teachers last summer, and about 103 of them had 1 year or less teaching CS; so about 60% did not have much CS teaching experience prior to our training! Last year, we had some recruitment luck in that there was quite the national stirring of interest in CS Principles (the Framework) among the White House CS for All initiative, AP/College Board, CSTA, and all the curricular-provider players (code.org, BJC, ECS, Mobile CSP, etc). So actually, there was more a-buzz in the air that really helped recruiting/marketing efforts external to our own 'push'!

    But this year, we've really had to tap in to our national UTeach STEM teacher prep program partners to help us spread the word and directly reach out to local area districts that surround our face-to-face training events. Marketing/Recruiting is a full time job, and we are still a pretty small but dedicated team. I can't say it's been easy, but DonorsChoose, CSTA, and InfoSys CSPD week opportunities and the like for teacher support this year have helped IMMENSELY. We are eternally grateful for interested foundations who support CS teachers' summer training opps. to be sure.

    Lastly, the more we support and train teachers with a quality CSP initiative, the more we rely on word-of-mouth and hope to continue garnering a good reputation with CS teachers. It is a work that we are passionate about!

    Thank you for your question and viewing the video! -Amy

     
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  • Icon for: Debra Bernstein

    Debra Bernstein

    Researcher
    May 18, 2017 | 11:57 a.m.

    Thanks, Amy, for your response.  And good luck with the recruiting!

     
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    Amy Moreland
  • Icon for: Neil Plotnick

    Neil Plotnick

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2017 | 11:20 a.m.

    I would suppose that your experience with teacher training is fairly common. I went through training with CODE.ORG and many of us were not CS teachers. They asked my cohort to help them find good teachers that wanted to learn how to teach CS. 

    Do you provide stipends or other incentives to attract teachers?

     
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  • Icon for: Amy Moreland

    Amy Moreland

    Presenter
    May 19, 2017 | 04:43 p.m.

    Hi Neil, Thank you for your question!

    These first couple years, we have fortunately had a nice mix of funding opportunities available to teachers to attend the trainings, from stipends (Y1) to DonorsChoose support (includes stipends - Myrtle Beach, Seattle, and Boston are still open!), to InfoSys Foundation USA support for CSPdWeek (we have a July training during that week called UTeach CSPDallas - travel/lodging/meals included new-to-CS teachers preferred- seats available!). We feel these funding support structures have helped immensely in attracting teachers to the training. IMMENSELY. We do our best to find the support!

    But teachers do get so much more beyond simply the 5-PD days or Online PD trainings - They also receive the 1-year of intensive implementation support: 

    • Regular, remote video check-ins for teachers with questions or issues with implementation
    • Remote micro-workshops that serve as “just-in-time” refreshers for each upcoming unit
    • On-demand phone and email coaching and support, provided by two dedicated UTeach Computer Science teacher support specialists
    • An online community of practice, facilitated by the UTeach team, designed to answer questions, connect teachers, and encourage the sharing of resources and context-specific adaptations to the curriculum and materials

    And our PD model, we have found, really helps with word-of-mouth from teachers who have stuck it out with us over the year. Our in-house trainers and curricular expert are amazing teachers themselves.

     

     
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    Stephanie Ludi

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 19, 2017 | 10:30 a.m.

    Hi,

    I like your videos and curriculum.  I am curious as to how students with disabilities are recruited and accommodated in the courses, as well as if teachers have some latitude as to what is taught or how (e.g. changing the language used)?

     
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  • Icon for: Michael DeGraff

    Michael DeGraff

    Co-Presenter
    May 22, 2017 | 10:32 a.m.

    Thanks for your note!

    We leverage the CB materials related to recruiting heavily: https://advancesinap.collegeboard.org/stem/comp...

    This summer we are incorporating materials from UW's Alliance for Accessing Computing Careers in our training and we have suggested modifications for special populations in all of our lesson plans.

    In terms of flexible curriculum, we encourage teachers to adapt our materials to fit their context. Here is a video of UT Austin faculty speaking about our philosophy related to fidelity of implementation. We encourage teachers to adapt our curriculum vs a lock step adoption. However, the materials we created have been tested for over 4 years and iterated several times which we say to emphasize the amount of thought and effort that has already gone into the design. 

    In terms of languages, we strongly believe in our choices of scratch and processing for their accessibility and ease of use (low floor, high ceiling, and wide walls). For more info about why we chose these two platforms here is another video from our online teacher training. We understand that there are other viable options for teachers to choose, but our ability to support their implementation is limited and the materials we have developed would need to be adapted by the instructor. We have opted to have greater depth of support for these two languages rather than accommodating additional languages. We feel that this is more effective for supporting more teachers to implement AP CSP and reach more students.

     
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  • Icon for: Lien Diaz

    Lien Diaz

    Facilitator
    May 19, 2017 | 02:29 p.m.

    I enjoyed the inclusion of the quote from the K12 CS framework. It is one that I refer to in many instances as  reminder about the importance of minding the diversity gap that still exists in CS education. As I've reviewed this curriculum, a couple things stood out for me. First, the flow of the units in the curriculum seem very effective. Beginning with the Data Representation and Programming units which helps establish a meaning foundation for the role of data in programming. Then going into the Digital Media Processing, Big Data, and Innovative Technologies units allows students to make stronger connections to technologies that have been or can be created with this knowledge. And second, the thoughtful integration and implementation of project based learning approaches in each lesson is commendable. This approach makes more sense in terms of creating a teaching and learning environment that welcomes diversity and diverse learners. I'll be very interested in knowing if this project is collecting data on where this curriculum is being taught, the demographics of teachers and students, and any changes in perspectives on computer science including achievement data and continuation of STEM or computing disciplines as a result of being exposed to this curriculum. Great project!!  

     

     
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    Amy Moreland
  • Icon for: Amy Moreland

    Amy Moreland

    Presenter
    May 19, 2017 | 04:31 p.m.

    Thank you for the kind words, Lien! As you know, this UTeach CS team is a passionate bunch when it comes to PBL and inquiry. We are excited about sitting down with the 1-year 'look' at all the data (via school/teacher/classroom demographics and geo-spread of UTeach CSP course implementation and evaluator surveys) that we have gathered to date. On top of that, we are really interested in seeing the first round of AP CSP results soon (I'm sure we are not alone there!). All together, I have no doubt that our year's work so far will tell a quite the story! We'll be mindful to incorporate the lessons we can learn to improve our work, and especially to hear from the teachers and students' experiences in completing this course over the last year. 

     
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