Posted: Thu, 07/05/2018 - 12:32
Each month, we highlight a member of the CS for All Teachers community.
Name: Linda Sweeting
Occupation: Teacher on Special Assignment: Instructional Technology Mentor
Workplace: Escambia County Schools, Florida
Years in education: 26
Years teaching computer science: 6
TEACHING COMPUTER SCIENCE (CS)
What interests you about CS?
I love the way that computer science teaches students to problem-solve while thinking logically. And, there is a high degree of student success since most lessons require persistence and collaboration, as opposed to fast fact recall.
How did you start teaching CS? Do you have a background in CS?
I took a tech teacher position in a small Catholic school. I was both the classroom teacher for preK-8th grade and the network technician. I literally learned as I went along, most times only one step ahead of my students! After the first year, I took graduate classes to get my computer science teaching certificate. The certification helped build my foundational knowledge; however, I am still learning as I go because technology changes so fast.
How have your CS students inspired you? What is your favorite CS project you have completed with them?
I am continually inspired by my students' enthusiasm and risk-taking attitude. They inspire my own approach to leveling-up the lesson activities. A favorite lesson activity was inspired by the book The One and Only Ivan. After reading about Ivan the gorilla, I did some research on him, and then decided to rework the research paper requirement. My 7th and 8th graders researched, found images, and created bibliographies about topics inspired by books, places, or personal experiences that could be mapped across time and place. They then created a Google map of their research to include a paragraph and image for each event that was marked on their map. It was the most engaging, diverse, exciting project we did—and my students never realized that they had completed a 10 paragraph research paper because they were so invested in the project!
CS EDUCATION COMMUNITY
How do you get other teachers, administrators, and community members excited about CS?
Part of what I do is professional development for teachers. I make sure that I incorporate a computer science activity/skill into my presentations in some way. I find that if teachers and administrators experience it themselves as a learner, there is a greater chance that they will use that positive experience in their own classroom with their students.
What excites you most about the current state of CS education in the US?
I am so excited to see computer science getting more coverage, especially during teacher professional development and in online communities. With more teachers taking an interest, there has been a rise in the number of lessons, ideas, products, and websites available for teachers to use. This makes it possible for ALL teachers to have success when integrating computer science topics into the regular curriculum. I am excited to see where this will take us in education.
What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to potential CS educators?
Just do it! Many educators do not feel comfortable with tech in general; let alone teaching it. The beauty of teaching computer science is that it's collaborative, and you don't have to know all the answers because everyone can learn together. Because computer science celebrates persistence and problem-solving in a collaborative environment, everyone can succeed and anyone can lead. This is so empowering to our students.
TELL US MORE!
Write a poem or haiku describing what teaching CS is like.
Gives us all the chance to shout:
"Creative we are!"
What do you do to recharge after a long day (or week, month, year, etc.) of teaching?
Read—everything and anything. I am a voracious reader, and there is nothing better than losing oneself in the written word.