#CSEdWeek — Teaching Computer Science in Chicago: Scott Grens, Principal at Lake View High School

 |   Scott Grens, Principal at Lake View High School

CSEdWeek - Scott Grens (1)

This week, as part of Computer Science Education Week, we are highlighting the personal side of Computer Science and STEM/STEAM. To do that, we’ve gathered some of Chicago’s best teachers in Computer Science to highlight the work that CS and STEM education does for our city.

I still recall my conversation in college with my older brother as I pled for my family to purchase a computer for me. “What do you even need a computer for in college?” he asked, having graduated himself only five years prior as the first in our family. At that time, two of my five classes were either administered completely online or heavily web-based – something a generation of college graduates just five years prior had yet to experience.

Now, as a secondary school principal at Lake View High School (LVHS), I am once again seeking more technology to ensure we not only keep up with the evolution of secondary schools, but that we lead the evolution of secondary schools. As one of five Early College STEM High Schools with the Chicago Public Schools, LVHS implemented an increased focus on Computer Science starting in 2012, leading to a curriculum today that provides college and career credentials for students in high school, as well as early exposure to everything from coding to critical thinking to college and careers. The focus is paying off, as students venture out using their new skills to succeed in high school internships, technology-related competitions, and scholarships to major universities.

Putting the benefits of a Computer Science curriculum aside, a glance into any high school classroom today will show just how much the secondary school setting has shifted in the last few years with the inclusion of computers:

  • Students use phones to vote on teacher-designed “polls”
  • Educators scan exams for students to provide immediate feedback and gather trend data on the classroom’s strengths and areas of improvement to adapt tomorrow’s lesson
  • Peer editing moves from paper and pencil to online document sharing through cloud-based collaboration tools
  • Teacher teams utilize shared file spaces for instructional strategies, student supports, and data analysis protocols
  • Hallways contain computer stations to support students with access to online grades, college preparation programs, and email communication to teachers
  • Physical Education classrooms track heart rates and physical fitness electronically through various applications, tools, and health equipment
  • Online teacher grading systems allow for immediate parent/guardian notification and teacher messaging when a grade increases or decreases – all with the click of one button.

And, while the classrooms evolve to meet the technology, the success of the classroom relies heavily on the evolution of students and educators as we all engage with the inevitable changes and challenges we will face.

My family never did help me purchase that computer request in college, and while challenging to navigate the four years without one, I am thankful. Thanks to the many hours spent finalizing papers in public computer labs, I acquired an even deeper appreciation for technology and even more importantly, I learned how to overcome the challenge of adapting to the evolving educational atmosphere.

Looking for more coding opportunities? Find more coding tools and resources for students, parents, and educators at microsoft.com/hourofcode.

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