Making Computer Science (CS) STICK: Systemic Change for Teachers

The Friday Institute will create and develop a sustainable community of elementary teachers to support ongoing integration of computer science (CS) concepts into core content areas. By implementing a scalable professional development (PD) program and co-creating locally relevant curricular materials with teachers, the project team aims to increase access to computing education in elementary schools, ensuring that every student in North Carolina has the opportunity to experience CS regardless of historical stereotypes and institutional barriers.

In partnership with the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS), the team will target up to 60 elementary teachers from the district to recruit, train and provide support for the program. This cohort of lead teachers will then serve as informal coaches with their colleagues in their respective schools, expanding the impact of their work.

The Friday Institute team will leverage their expertise in CS content, curriculum and professional learning to address implementation barriers that prevent integration of CS in elementary classrooms in ways that are accessible and effective for both teachers and students.

The “Making Computer Science STICK” program will feature three distinct phases of work. During the first phase in fall 2022, teachers will receive pedagogical and content-specific instruction based on the nationally recognized Computer Science Fundamentals curriculum. When they return to their classrooms, they will have time to embed what they’ve learned into their lessons, receiving support through a virtual community of practice throughout the year and developing best practices and cross-curricular activities that meet standards from core content areas – ELA, math and science – and CS standards. In the second phase, teachers will reconvene for a multiday institute to learn how to develop new curricular resources seamlessly into existing elementary curricula. Finally, in the third phase, the cohort of teachers will take ownership of scaling CS integration and share their newly created resources with other educators, serving as informal coaches with their colleagues in their respective schools to assist colleagues in embracing CS instruction.

The team plans to share their data and results after their work is complete in a case study, reflecting on the successes and challenges of the yearlong project. Their ultimate goal is to create a model for computing education that the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) can bring to scale for elementary classrooms across the state.