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Leading Learners in Computer Science

22 Aug 2021 9:34 AM | Shane Asselstine (Administrator)

Author: Celeste Endo | Technology Teacher/Coordinator | Queen Ka‘ahumanu Elementary

Last year, a whole lotta good people worked extra hard to pass SB242 and woot woot did y'all hear that Governor Ige signed ACT 158 into law?! Cheehoo!! This ensures that all K-12 Hawai‘i students will be given the opportunity to learn computer science. To prepare, many teachers have been taking Computer Science (CS) Fundamentals PD Courses led by Shane Asselstine and the Pearl City-Waipahu Complex Area (PWCA) team. Anyone who doesn’t think we can teach CS in all schools by 2024-2025, has got to see and understand this team’s promising vision.

Gratefully, I was a part of CS Fundamentals Training in Cohort 5 and got to learn from brilliant everyday heroic teachers! We were just one of seven sub-groups of teachers across the state of Hawai‘i that went through training together. PWCA teachers were the role models in our Cohort 5 who came with CS skills and were totally schooling the rest of us! Wowee, during planning time, the PCWA teachers came prepared with plans they just had to tweak a bit for their respective schools, while many of the rest of us struggled to plan from scratch! 

Page 4 of the Code.org Curriculum Guide (link requires a verified Code.org teacher accountsays, “We design curriculum with the idea that the instructor will act as the lead learner.” The code.org Lead Learner mindset is that one person doesn’t have to know everything, we totally are learning from each other! 

We learned from PWCA that we need to work with stakeholders. Admin needs to understand the impact of CS. Educators need to realize how we can be CS lead learners. Families need to understand how to support their children and teens in CS endeavors. Our youth needs to be convinced of computer science’s relevance to their lives. 

Another big take away from CS Fundamentals is realizing the importance of Unplugged activities. With the challenge of not enough time, I skipped teaching most Unplugged lessons. Now I realize that the unplugged serves as scaffolding for students to better grasp CS concepts.

This reminded me of a ladder I saw on Twitter that started me wondering. What if we gifted our haumana a vision of a Lead Learner Ladder on our computer science quest? To help my school ‘ohana visualize what we are embarking on, I tried to create a ladder in usually user-friendly canva.com, but totally failed! It was too hard. Then I tried another method and found value in unplugged paper, pencil, & pens.

Recently I got to witness one of life’s miracles. Within a few weeks, my baby nephew had gone from crawling to walking. Yet it was no magic wand that helped him bravely step ahead. It was a tremendous effort from him and those who love him. It took consistent practice, praise for doing well, and feedback to correct mistakes. He may stumble and fall, yet with a “no scared ‘em go gettum” attitude, he picks himself up and keeps on going. Just like my nephew learning to walk, with the help of many Computer Science supporters we will keep trying and grow from our CS experiences.

Since taking the CS Fundamentals Training in Cohort 5, my school has found a way to schedule the 20 weeks needed for upper grade code.org lessons that includes Unplugged! Once other grade levels and the whole faculty see the computer science presentation, they will buy in and become a part of our Lead Learner Ladder interactive chant. These are small steps yet hopefully we will help to move our haumana up the ladder together.

We can all strive to be lead learners and hopefully many will be courageous to step up. It might feel like baby steps at times, yet every step is one step toward growth. As we start a new school year, this child at heart is looking forward to joining the legion of lead learners moving up the ladder together and creating small steps along the way.


Celeste Endo

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