Winchester Public Schools Boots Up Computer Science Opportunities for Students During CS Education Week LAUNCH, Dec. 7-13
11 December, 2020
“Computer Science Education is a matter of equity. All students deserve to have access to the problem solving and critical thinking practices of Computer Science.”
– Britt Miller, Computer Science Integration and Equity Coach, Winchester Public Schools.
“Learning the basics of Computer Science, such as coding, teaches students how to think instead of what to think. In this technology age we need these techies – thinkers – and tinkerers to decode for us the future of enginuity.”
– Dr. Jennifer C. LaBombard-Daniels, METRICS Project Specialist, Winchester Public Schools.
Computer Science is an exciting, vital and growing field. And while our students may be many years from entering the workforce, we know without a foundation begun in elementary school, they won’t be prepared for the challenge. And here at Winchester Public schools, we can’t wait to start celebrating CS with Computer Science Education Week!
We plan for 100% participation in all that CodeVA has to offer from the live event and professional development to the Hour of Code and Family Code Night. To add to the excitement and fun we have created a week long Code-a-thon event, inviting students and their families to participate in Computer Science themed physical activities and coding at home.
But Computer Science Education Week is just a start and a celebration. In Winchester, the METRICS team is committed to building a CS partnership between students, parents, teachers, community members, with all of us energized and excited to empower all our students – to propel themselves toward their futures! METRICS, which stands for Maximizing Engagement Through Regular Immersion in Computer Science, better known as METRICS, is a federal US Department of Education grant that Winchester Public Schools, won with the mission to bring CS education to all students. The grant provides $4 million in funds and resources over the next few years to two of our elementary schools, John Kerr Elementary and Garland Quarles Elementary. Through these resources, METRICS is training and supporting our teachers through PD and Stemersions, creating integrated CS Units, providing student supports, CS-focused field trips and clubs, and creating real-world tethers for our students to not only learn about CS but to visualize a future where they are a part of the solution.
Building a powerful momentum, we are committed to connecting CS education to the entire school community. John Kerr and Garland Quarles elementary schools will host several community events throughout the year to bring families and partners together with teachers and students to share CS challenges, accomplishments, and projects. The importance of family and community engagement in school culture cannot be overstated. The METRICS team is planning for our families and partners in education to learn right alongside our students, strengthening the tie between what is happening in the classroom to the real-world. CS Education in elementary school is a new and often unfamiliar content area for many of our parents. Family Code Night is an excellent resource for our families to learn more about the importance of CS education while also enjoying coding challenges together at home.
We have a few big hopes and dreams for our students. We want to help them grow into techies that are not only thoughtful consumers of technology, but creative producers of new technologies. We want to cultivate thinkers who can work critically and creatively with new ideas, and we want them to be tinkerers actively and curiously engaged in solving the problems of the future. We are proud to be a part of a state that recognizes the importance of computer science and that has set the expectation of CS education for all K-12 schools.
Winchester Public Schools believe that CS education is a matter of equity. CS education is for all students K-12. In our schools, students have access to a curriculum that integrates CS standards and computational thinking practices and approaches with math, reading, science, and social studies. Students participate in CS-focused camps and after school programs, such as “Girls Who Code”, Coding in Scratch, and Design Squad. Students are connected with professionals in computing fields through virtual field trips to create real-world tethers and meaningful learning experiences.
The goal of CS education for all students can only be achieved when teachers have the resources, support, and training that enables this integration. Our METRICS grant provides teachers with comprehensive professional development made available for free to school divisions by the state through CodeVA, and classroom training and support with CodeVA-certified Coaches. In addition, every teacher has the opportunity to complete a “Stemersion” in which they work alongside a professional in a STEM or CS-specific career, bringing authentic, real-world experiences directly back into the classroom.
In the words of our METRICS Project team leader, Jennifer LaBombard-Daniels, “Learning the basics of Computer Science, such as coding, teaches students how to think instead of what to think. In this technology age we need these techies – thinkers – and tinkerers to decode for us the future of ingenuity.”