Thanks to Alabama’s professional development programs for Computer Science teachers, career tech educator Pam McClendon has become a skilled CS teacher leader, committed to opening career doors for students and realizing the vision that all Alabama youth today need to gain some mastery of coding and computer science skills.
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Making computer science education a priority begins by assuring equitable access in every Alabama high school. When you walk into Brenda Richardson’s classroom at Decatur City’s Austin High School, “you see a diverse population of students, representative of our student population as a whole. I think it is extremely powerful when students can look around their class and see such diversity. We are breaking CS stereotypes at Austin High!”
Why teach Computer Science to all our students? At its core, computer science “is just the methods by which we teach a machine to perform tasks based on our instructions,” writes CS teacher Eleson Tanton. By showing students how the same process can be applied to their own learning, we can help them integrate skills and knowledge into a more productive life.
The mastery of new, more rigorous standards has been challenging for many students, says the 2018-19 Alabama Teacher of the Year Zestlan Simmons, but “thanks to a steady process of guided practice and constant feedback” many more students are turning the corner – gaining the skills and knowledge they need to become informed citizens ready to flourish and contribute to the world.
Alabama’s rigorous College and Career Ready science standards require students to go beyond identifying facts and information. They require them to predict, analyze, and explain as they work to master the standards’ expectations. Science teacher and NBCT Amy Fowler Murphy offers an example from her chemistry class.