Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) students are getting into computer coding, and it is not just in a computer science class. A new partnership with Code.org is helping CCPS infuse computer science and coding in math, science and computer classes for all students, from kindergarteners to high school seniors.
Superintendent Kimberly Hill announced a partnership agreement with Code.org Jan. 30 at Westlake High School during a program that began in Dianne O’Grady-Cunniff’s computer science class and moved to the auditorium for a joint statement by Code.org and CCPS officials. The partnership provides training for teachers, expands computer science class offerings and upgrades curriculum.
The announcement included lessons in computer science. Four elementary school students who participated in the recent Code.org-sponsored Hour of Code taught Charles County Sheriff Rex Coffey and Charles County Commissioner Vice President Reuben Collins how to write code. The students used an Angry Bird app to teach Coffey how to create the bird’s moves one line of code at a time. Collins learned how to create an animated cartoon figure using coding in a program called Scratch.
Pat Yongpradit, Code.org’s education director, called CCPS a model district saying the school system is a national leader in the promotion of computer science for students. “There are only a few school systems nationwide implementing computer science in such an aggressive way. Every single kid in high school will have the opportunity to take a computer science class. This shows Charles County’s commitment to give all students an opportunity to learn computer science,” Yongpradit said in an interview.
“Computer science helps students create, not simply use, new technologies … Code.org is dedicated to inspiring students to learn computer science and for schools to teach it. We are dedicated to enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) offerings and demystifying computer science and code. The partnership with Code.org will help us expose all students to computer science, a skill essential for our students’ success,” Hill said in an interview.
Code.org is a non-profit organization backed by companies like Google, Amazon, Dropbox, Microsoft and others, and will pay for curriculum materials and teacher training. The CCPS partnership with Code.org is a multi-year commitment that uses a master teacher model to build a professional development standard for years to come without reliance on Code.org. Teacher training begins in the spring, and students may sign up for courses in the 2014-15 school year. As part of the initiative, CCPS is piloting a new Advanced Placement course, Computer Science Principles.
“This is not just one computer science course. It is a package. This is the beginning of standardizing computer science skills within Charles County Public Schools,” Hill said.
“Every student in Charles County Public Schools will be exposed to the skills that computer science has to offer. Every student will learn how to think critically, how to analyze a problem and how to come up with a solution. Instead of being intimidated by computer science, Charles County Public Schools students will learn about how much fun computer science can be,” Hill said during remarks at the program.
Hill commended three teachers, Joseph Greenawalt and Janet Bondelid of North Point High School and O’Grady-Cunniff, for their work that led to the partnership.
“In Charles County Public Schools, we believe that we can be the difference in the life of a child. We believe that we can teach children that they are capable of changing the world. Our partnership with Code.org enhances our ability to impact children and their future, and we are proud to announce this partnership today,” Hill said.
Code.org is a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding participation in computer science education by making it available in more schools and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Code.org’s efforts to expand computer science by partnering with school systems like Charles County Public Schools.
About Charles County Public Schools
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,500 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 35 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.