In November of this year, a small team of individuals gathered together to create a coalition with a common goal:
To debunk the misconceptions of the term “computer science” and create a road map of examples for stakeholders to reference. Help educators capitalize on teachable moments and provide experiences that help teachers see how this work connects and supports what they are already doing.
The group consisted of educators, former school counselors, administrators, media specialists, professional development coordinators, ISBE representatives and early childhood educator specialists. The goal was lofty, but these individuals were no stranger to pressure cooker intense situations in the education world because these individuals worked with pre-k students.
In other words, this was a group of super human individuals shaping the world one tiny human at a time! Why did they devote their time to this group? The answer was simple: pre-k learning is foundational. If we could come up with a way to meaningfully integrate computer science standards into the pre-existing pre-k curriculum standards, we would be setting students on a lifelong relationship with computer science.
At our earliest meetings we chatted about best pedagogical practices and resources to narrow down the vast curriculum standards that pre-k teachers are familiar with. We then went round robin style to share the work we were currently doing with students that were working with.
What Is Already Working
Children are naturally inquisitive and curious. It’s not a far jump then to take our little learners down the path of design thinking. Pre-k classrooms that are currently integrating computer science into their curriculum are seeing much success defining problems and being solution oriented. Teachers are able to develop opportunities to establish and teach empathy. Station based learning allows students who are already familiar with the process, experience new and exciting content in ways that make sense to them. By embedding CS vocabulary into their every day routine, our youngest learners are adopting a CS mindset early on. One example of this is from a preschool class. The students read the story 5 Little Pumpkins and then engaged in a conversation with their teachers. They identified a problem and a solution and were then tasked to build a gate to support a mini pumpkin in small groups. Another example is the Samantha Snail project where students were asked to adopt a perspective of a woodland animal. They then experimented with various learning tools like merge cubes, Quiver Vision and Cubetto in station based learning.
Where To From Here?
If you have ever been in a room full of preschoolers, it’s obvious that you’ll need some tricks up your sleeve to hold their attention and for retention of the content you are teaching. Your overall goal is to teach the pre-k standards, life skills, soft skills, capitalize on teachable moments and integrate technology. Easier said than done right? You know the old cliche, better together? There’s a reason why it is a cliche. The pre-k CS standards alignment team has taken the Illinois Early Learning & CS Standards and crosswalked them. Within these crosswalks we’ve also included sample activities or examples that you can embed into the work you are already doing. This will allow you to provide lessons rich with computer science knowledge that are tied to the learning target and overall pre-k goals you have for your students. These alignment maps are broken down into subject areas as well so you can see exactly what skills complement each other and what strategies for implementation work best. Best of all? These alignment maps were created by a group of teachers in the trenches just like you! But wait, it gets better! Also included on this team are ISBE professionals ensuring that the connections of content are strong enough to support the pre-existing learning targets. These alignments maps are your starting point for creating well rounded lessons that integrate much more than just computer science.
Call To Action: Take A Look For Yourself
The team broke into groups and made a total of eight alignment maps based on subject or content area. We then compared the Early Learning Standards for that specific subject with the Computer Science Standards and aligned them accordingly. Here is an example of the resources we’ve been diligently creating for you over the past nine months.
Sample Pre-K ELL & CS Alignment Map
Pending ISBE approval, each content area will have a unique alignment map like the one you see above. It will include the pre-k learning standard, CS standard and sample activities and lessons. If you are still feeling overwhelmed, never fear, IDEA has got you covered! Sign up for one of the amazing professional learning opportunities below:
IDEA and the Pre-K CS Avengers are happy to support your classroom learning in any way possible. If you have questions or ideas, don’t hesitate to reach out!
After all, when it comes to CS, it is inevitable.
If you are looking for other grade level resources, don’t hesitate to contact us for support, learning opportunities, and resources. We have you covered!
Contact us to work with your district and teacher’s on integrating CS
Wednesday Webinars - Upcoming CS Webinars can always be found here.
Recorded webinars can be found on our website here or on your YouTube channel here.
IDEA Partners dedicated to CS and supporting educators
**The following blog was posted in June 2021 - public comment is now closed._____________________________
The new Illinois Learning Standards for Computer Science are open for public comment. View them here (Pages 46 - 64), and send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org before July 5.
Here at Illinois Digital Education Alliance (IDEA), we are proud to be working with a group of dedicated educators, professionals, and ISBE on the development of the Illinois Learning Standards for Computer Science.
Now, it is your turn to share your thoughts. But before you do, we wanted to provide you with some extra background.
First off, with the passage of House Bill 2170, school districts will be required to ensure that students receive developmentally appropriate opportunities to gain computer literacy skills beginning in elementary school.
The bill reads as follows:
(105 ILCS 5/2-3.185 new)
Sec. 2-3.185. Computer science standards and courses. On on before December 1, 2021, the State Board of Education shall:
(1) develop or adopt rigorous learning standards in the area of computer science; and
(2) analyze and revise, if appropriate, existing course titles dedicated to computer science or develop a short list of existing course titles that are recommended for computer science courses.
Since fall of 2020, IDEA has been a participant in the working group for the development of the Illinois State Goals of Learning for Computer Science (CS) Standards. These standards are a modified version of the K-12 Computer Science Framework.
We are SO excited about the development of these critical standards and the impact it will have on Illinois students. The great news is that Illinois is no stranger to making big strides in computer science and STEM.
In 2017, the state of Illinois was the second largest producer of computer science graduates in the nation, awarding nearly 10 percent of the country’s computer science degrees.
“In 2016, Illinois institutions produced more than 40,000 STEM degrees, and about 50 percent of the degrees were earned by international and immigrant students.” (Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, 2017).
In addition, Illinois has added STEM jobs at a rate that is outpacing the national average with overall computer-related jobs having increased 5 percent annually. These rates are just going to continue to grow and with the adoption of the Illinois Computer Science Standards, we will have an opportunity to give our students the skills they need to be successful in these STEM jobs.
With all this in mind, we invite you to review the Computer Science Standards currently posted for public comment. You can find them here on page 46 - 64).
To provide your feedback, please email ISBE at email@example.com by July 5. Instructions for public comment can be found here.
Your input is invaluable. We highly encourage you to take the time to share your thoughts and help continue to improve Illinois’ computer science standards.
IDEA is already prepping content, programming, and professional learning opportunities to help educators in Illinois integrate these standards into Pre-K-12 classrooms. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for more information on this programming and future events coming soon!
We look forward to supporting YOU!