It seems hard to believe that it is already Winter Break here in Virginia. This year, my year of #momentum is almost over- just 2 more weeks. Before I know it, I will be selecting my #oneword2023 and reflecting on this amazing year, So many amazing things have happened this year and I am so proud of the momentum that I have built and maintained this year.

A lot of this has been due to me taking risks and moving even further outside of my comfort zone. In 2022, I have presented 19 conferences this year, including 3 featured speaker spotlights. I have been working all this year on my ISTE certification and will be ready to submit my portfolio at the end of January 2023. I found a new school family and became a Saratoga Stallion this fall. I did my first book study with Constellation Learning and went down to Texas in August to provide 3 days of Professional Learning to Cypress Fairbanks School District. It has been an exciting year,

Reviewing what are the ABCs of Transforming Learning are-

Two weeks ago, I shared a blog post called G = Grant Students Choices in Learning. In this post, I shared two instructional strategies that provide our students scaffolds and supports as they become more independent learners and give you as the educators concrete examples to get started. It will show you how you can package these strategies with tech tools and give your students choice that validate and honor their learning styles and needs.

This week, we will focus on H = Highlight Ways That Our Students Can Use Computer Science. Another way that I pushed further out of my comfort zone this year was to build on my understanding of how my students could use computer science. In this post, I will share how I began to use computer science programs such as Scratch and Tinkercad with my students and the rewards that it brought.

H = Highlight Ways That Students Can Use Computer Science

During the 2021-2022 school year, I volunteered to participate in a computer science pilot for George Mason University. This pilot was to try out curriculum that linked literacy instruction with computational thinking and coding. During this pilot, I tested out the materials using one of my fifth grade Content classes that I saw once a week for an hour. When I initially started this pilot, I wasn't sure what to expect. Not only were there student modules, but teacher modules as well. But what I found was a great entry point for me to learn more about how my students could integrate computer science into instruction.

What Can Students Can Do with Scratch?

Before doing this pilot, I had never really thought about the connection between coding and literature. I would have never thought about using coding and Scratch as a way to summarize a story, but once I saw the potential of this, I was sold. In this pilot, we used the Summarizing strategy, Somebody Wanted But So Then (SWBAT). Students read a story and then planned coding the story using this strategy.

  • Somebody___________________(Character)

  • Wanted_______________________(Character's problem)

  • But________________________( What got in the way)

  • So______________________(What happened next)

  • Then_____________________(How the story ended)

What Else Can Students Do With Scratch?

  • After doing this pilot, I wanted to see how else I could use Scratch. With my second graders, I adapted this idea and had my students complete a Beginning, Middle, End organizer and use it to code their story.

  • Later in the year, I found out that my fifth grade classes used Scratch to create a virtual museum exhibit for their research projects and then embedded them into their project websites or slide shows.

  • This past week, as part of a Winter choice board, students could choose to use Scratch to code a Winter scene as one of their options.

What Can Students Use Tinkercad for?

Tinkercad is a 3D modeling program that students can use to create. When I first started using Tinkercad, I struggled with it as well. Like my experiences with Scratch, I needed to find an easier way to "teach" this for myself. I found using one of the starter projects where I made a house step by step really beneficial.

One of the things that I really like about Tinkercad is that they have so many projects ready to go.

  • Last year as part of my STEAM classes at my prior school, my fourth graders got to create their own avatars in Tinkercad.

  • My sixth graders engaged in a Cake Wars competition.

What Else Can Students Use Tinkercad for?

Spurred on by these STEAM successes, I have seen a lot of potential in using this program.

  • My second graders used Tinkercad to create a machine that could help them accomplish a task.

  • As part of my Winter Choice Board this week, students could choose to create a Winter Wonderland scene.

Even More Ways for Students to Use Computer Science

If these ideas are a little too much for you, consider these other ways to highlight computer science to your students,

  • Use computer science vocabulary-

        • When giving your students directions, call them an algorithm. An algorithm is a list of steps to accomplish a task.

        • When you need to find out why something is not working, ask your students to debug or find the problems with the issue.

  • Have your students use

        • has self paced curriculum with coding puzzles that your students can work on independently. Consider having your students use this curriculum on their own.

        • even has premade materials for a Family Code Night using these puzzles.

How will YOU highlight computer science for your students?

Consider the ideas shared in this blog post. If 65% of the jobs that our students will get in the future do not currently exist, we need to prepare them by making them problem solvers and problem finders. Using computer science is a great way to promote this and builds creativity, critical thinking, and perseverance in our students.

There are so many resources available to help you along the way. Check some of these out:

I can't wait to see how you highlight ways your students can use computer science!