CS Teacher Series: What Teaching CS Means to Me By Kelly Powers

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National Computer Science Education Week is this week and we will be participating in a number of events in the area. We are also proud to feature local computer science teachers as a guest bloggers right here on the Microsoft New England blog. Each of these teachers inspired with their creative and thoughtful commitment to education. ~Aimee Sprung, Civic Engagement Manager – Microsoft New England.

Teaching Computer Science to my students has provided a classroom setting for the students that is vibrant, engaging, and different than most classrooms that they have experienced. In our Computer Science classroom students are expected to create, think outside the box, test their ideas, collaborate and share their solutions with their peers. Computer Science has brought smiles, sighs of JOY, whispered exclamations of “Yes!”, cheers and sometimes victory dances.

Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to:

1.) Work mostly with students in grades six through twelve,

2.) Deliver a pure Computer Science curriculum that is both engaging and develops student’s thinking and problem solving skills,

3.) Work with a strong team of passionate Computer Science teachers who have been able to engage their students and demonstrate to their students how the student’s explorations in Computer Science will benefit them in their future field of study that they choose to pursue in college and career.

By exposing students to how the use and application of algorithms impacts society in all fields, students are able to see the relevance and value of their experiences in the computer science classroom. Students see how the creative, collaborative and problem solving experience prepares them for all fields. Computer Science exposure has given our students confidence and opportunities to pair program, deliver elevator pitches and develop digital portfolios to explain their creations. And finally, students exposed to Computer Science have had the opportunity to explore systems and hardware in more depth, including developing apps that interface with robots and interacting with features of the smartphone that challenge them to create more complex apps.

TeenLeadersI chose to teach Computer Science because I love solving problems and believe that I can help students apply what they learn in the Computer Science classroom to their daily lives. Computer Science must become accessible to all students particularly females and under-represented minorities. In May 2014, I joined an initiative titled MassCAN, a project focused on developing teachers to succeed at introducing Computer Science to all grades in K-12, and to provide access and an incredible education in Computing to all students.

Kelly Powers recently left the classroom after teaching Computer Science for 15 years to join the Education Development Center’s MassCAN team as Director of CS Teacher Leadership. She is leading a statewide effort with support of public and private funding to provide Computer Science professional development to teachers in grades K-12 at no cost to the district. Prior to this appointment, Kelly was recognized as the Raytheon Patriots Place 2013 STEM Teacher of the Year Award and received the 2012 Massachusetts Technology Leadership award for inspiring and educating both teachers and students. Kelly is the advisor to the CS Sparks teen leadership group and co-founded the Greater Boston Computer Science Teachers Chapter. Districts seeking information to introduce Computer Science in K-12 are encouraged to set up a time to meet her.

To learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to youth and education, visit our YouthSpark Hub or follow us on twitter at @msftcitizenship.

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