News, features and tips for teachers, computer science advocates, and other heroes in education

The Ultimate Summer Prep Guide to Teaching Computer Science

Don't be overwhelmed! Summer may almost be over but you still have plenty of time to prepare for your upcoming computer science class.

Image: @donaldsonSC


Amidst the buzz of summer activity; grilling outside, family vacation, and maybe some summer school teaching, you may be one of the many educators who also needs to prepare to teach computer science.

The good news is that there is still plenty of time to prepare - no matter if you are teaching several computer science classes, hosting an after-school coding club, or just want to introduce computational thinking to all your classes.


Attend a Conference or Workshop

Gathering with other like-minded educators can be one of the most exciting and informative experiences you can have as a computer science teacher. As a relatively new space in K-12 education, attending a conference can give you an opportunity to explore new ideas, gather a resource list of possible software tools, teaching techniques, and contacts.

While an annual ed tech pilgrimage to ISTE is a summer tradition for many tech educators, not all teachers can make a big conference trip. Smaller local conferences, workshops, ed tech webinars, and intro computer science classes hosted by libraries or local schools can be just as rewarding. Some sites even offer professional development “summer camps” for teachers minus the mosquito bites.

Search your state education and district site for more local and subject specific conferences.

Local Tech Events & Workshops

EDxEDNY - June, New York
Ed Tech Teacher Summer Institutes - June, Boston & San Francisco
Science on the Grand: A STEAM Conference on Inquiry-Based Instruction - July, MI
CUE Rock Star Summer Camp - July-August, California (3 events)
Unconventional Classroom Conferences - year round, Various states
ISTE No Fear Coding Lab - October 6-8, Detroit, MI
HiveSummit (Free Virtual Educational Conference, August 1st)

Webinars

edWeb.net Webinars
EdTechTeacher Webinars
EdSurge Workshops & Webinars ISTE Webinars (Access for ISTE Members)
CodeCombat Webinars


Network with other educators

Travelling to a workshop or conference is a great way to meet and connect with teachers but the most convenient way to engage with teachers from all over the world is online through social media and digital edu communities (Slack, Twitter hashtags or tweetups, forums, Facebook groups, etc).

The freedom of digital dialogue is perfect for those moments filled with summer activities when you can’t commit too much time but have just enough to start a conversation. The ease of starting a conversation with fellow teachers that can possibly lead to deeper learning offers an alluring alternative to finding answers all on your own.

Tech Edu Communities (Forums, Slack) to join:

SlackEDU
A to Z Teacher Stuff
Teachers.net

Edu/Computer Science Twitter & Tweetups to follow:

#EdTechLN
#EDTech
@reshmasaujani
@6Gems
@hadip
@WeAreTeachers
@EdSurge
@iste
@EdTech_K12

Facebook:

AP Computer Science Teachers Group
Computer Science and ICT Teachers
Computer Science Teachers Association


Research teacher blogs & podcasts

Summer is a perfect time to read a blog on your tablet or listen to a podcast on your phone while enjoying the weather - or the air conditioning if you’re having a particularly sweltering summer. We have got you started with a list of great education blogs or podcasts and either modeling their style or approaching them for tips.

Starting a blog or being a guest on a podcast can give you the chance to share your experience as a teacher approaching computer science for the first time or discovering the best way to introduce computational thinking to all of your classes. You may end up helping a teacher who is searching for the same answers you were.

Edu Tech Blogs (and other topics):

Garth’s CS Education Blog
Edutopia
Mindshift
Teach Computing
Ed Tech Round Up
Computer Science Teacher
Kleinspiration
The Innovative Educator
Cycles of Learning
Bud The Teacher

Edu Tech Podcasts:

Tech Educator Podcast
The Edupreneur
Every Classroom Matters
#EdChat Radio
The Bradley Brothers Edchat
Talks with Teachers
ASCD Learn Teach Lead Radio
The Cult of Pedagogy
10 Minute Teacher
Education Podcast Network
The House of #Edtech
Techonomy
Wired Educator


Play with tech

The best way to get a handle on a new subject is diving right in and playing with the resources and tools you plan to test out. Talk with your school’s tech department to get ideas and explore all the options at your school.

CodeCombat scaffolds students as well as teachers and you can sign up for free, get access to online and offline lesson plans, try the first course for free, and practice learning real Python and JavaScript. Coding programs or tools with costs typically give you a trial period or the option to test out teacher accounts or you can try some of the free content on Code.org to at least get started.

Another great way to test your computer science teaching skills is to contact parents of former or current students to do a small trial run. This would also be a great way to share introductory computer science concepts with kids in your own family or a friend’s children while also learning concepts yourself. Don’t wait too late into the end of summer break to test run various programs - learning new concepts and a new program will pay dividends as you enter the school year.


Relax and Recharge!

It’s your time to take a break and recharge your mind and body. You want to go back to the classroom ready to share your enthusiasm with your students and learn with them. If you’re completely new to computer science you probably won’t learn everything you want to in one summer, but you don’t have to. Just start with one attainable goal to accomplish during the summer and extend that goal back into your class (“I want to learn three computer science concepts during the summer; I’ll then share those concepts I learned with my students”). Once your back in the class you can also give your students a class wide goal to accomplish.

Remember to approach your own learning and preparation like you would teach computer science or any new concept to your students; Don’t overwhelm, cover the basics, engage and collaborate with others, and set an end goal.

Even though you can start preparing for your class during the summer, there will always be something new to learn in computer science. Even if it is your first school year teaching computer science concepts - you can do it! Reach out to fellow teachers at your school or others in your district who can help. Plus, there is an endless source of teachers to reach out to online that can help.


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About CodeCombat:

CodeCombat is a platform for students to learn computer science while playing a real game. It has been played in 200 countries around the world and has helped 5M users learn Python and JavaScript. Used by more than 31,000 teachers in more than 13,000 schools in North America. It is built for all learners and teachers, grades 4-12 and is recognized by the College Board as an endorsed provider of curriculum and professional development for AP® Computer Science Principles (AP CSP). Teachers, students, and individuals can sign up for CodeCombat and try the first level for free.