Hello Middle School World!

Hello MS World! 

My name is Bobby Oommen, and I am excited to be the '18-'19 school year moderator for the MS Group on the CS for All Teachers Community. 

Just a bit about me - I teach middle school computer science at the Latin School of Chicago. This is my 4th year of teaching CS, and 13th year of teaching overall. I love teaching, basketball, Chicago sports, and 80's hair bands, but I promise to keep this space free from any references to the latter three. I'm a dad to four kids ranging from 12 years old to 5 years old, and as is the case for many of you, life is busy. 

With this first post, I wanted to do two things: (1) CLARIFY who this MS Group is for and (2) Ask you to REPLY and post about anything you would like to learn about/discuss/find more resources for, etc. 

So to the first point - If you don't have a local community of middle school CS Educators whom you can go to for help, support, resources, etc., this group can be that group for you! If you do have a community of CS Educators, consider this group as another community you can be a part of, and especially one where you can contribute and share all the things you do in your MS CS class to make it rock. Look to expand your network beyond your local school and region, and consider the benefits and perspectives you can gain from having a national network of peers.

To the second point - I invite you to REPLY and TELL the rest of us what you'd like to learn more about, discuss further, find more resources for, etc. Don't be bashful! As we tell our students, "No question or request is stupid...there are probably many others who are wondering/wanting the same thing!" I invite you to take a risk and see if you can post once this school year (even a quick reply will work!) in this community. 

What can you expect from me for this upcoming year? 

1. Weekly posts with relevant content - Once I hear back from y'all (another plug to REPLY!) I'd like to set up a schedule of topics to discuss and share over the course of the year. I also think if you have a schedule, you can choose when to tune back into the group both to contribute something and to receive something. 

2. Tons of growth - I've never done something like this before. Moderated an online community of 1000+ people? Nope. Create and find relevant weekly content for a diverse group of CS educators? Sorry, haven't done that either. 

You know what though? I want to learn. I want to learn from you. Maybe my efforts will be helpful, but maybe they won't. Maybe you will find something super useful, maybe you won't. As you and I know from the world of teaching...things rarely ever go exactly to plan, but there is always something to learn in the process. 

I'm super excited to help facilitate this group, and looking forward to connecting with you throughout the year. 

My best, 



P.S. Don't forget to reply! 



Profile picture for user BBURME1
Submitted by Brenda Burmeister on Tue, 09/25/2018 - 21:46

 Hi Bobby & Everyone,

Thanks for starting this conversation. 

I teach 7th graders at a public magnet school that focuses on technology and design.

This year we have been tasked with changing our teaching focus to PBL's only. I love this approach and when I taught science I taught using PBL's. But I think I am a bit flummoxed about the best way to create Computer Science PBL's at the middle school level. 

I am also interested in experiences and resources teaching computer science to English Language Learners, students with 504s particularly dyslexia, and special education students.

This year I will also be using pair programming for the first time. So any tips or recommendation in this front would be great.


Overall, I also just love reading other teachers stories of how they have incorporated computer science into the classroom or into their subject. 


I am pretty lucky that I teach at a technology magnet school and so there are 5 other teachers who teach technology or computer science, but CS For All Teachers is still a much-needed community of support and ideas. 

I am really curious to hear the topics everyone else is interested in exploring this year!


(in San Antonio Texas)


In reply to by Brenda Burmeister


Profile picture for user boommen
Submitted by Bobby Oommen on Thu, 09/27/2018 - 09:37


I totally agree that Project Based Learning has so many benefits, but incorporating it into MS CS classes (who may not meet consistently, or for shorter lengths of time, among other constraints) can be challenging. I've noted this as a possible topic.  

Thanks for the reply Brenda! I appreciate your input! 


Profile picture for user larsensn
Submitted by Nicole Reitz-Larsen on Tue, 09/25/2018 - 23:34

Hi folks,

I teach 7-12th graders at West High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. I've had the opportunity to teach everything from German, Business Courses, Multimedia to Computer Science.  I've been able to focus more on computer science over the last 5 years and love, love, love it.

For the most part I teach 9-12th grade students, Exploring Computer Science and AP Computer Science Principles, however, I teach 7th graders computer science or general CTE coursework.

I've found that many of the elementary and middle school teachers are super innovative with teaching computer science and making connections from computer science to so many other topics and careers.  I'd like to add some of those great ideas to my high school students and help them have fun while they are learning who computer sciences are, what they do, solve problems using computational thinking practices and be creators.

I'm looking forward to what others have to share and am excited to network with you all.


In reply to by Nicole Reitz-Larsen


Profile picture for user boommen
Submitted by Bobby Oommen on Thu, 09/27/2018 - 09:42

Hi Nicole, 

That's a great point. I'd like to have a discussion topic about examples of cross-curricular collaboration (say that fast 3 times) that have worked well. Those tend to find connections between CS and a given subject, and foster deeper understanding of a topic. Your idea is noted and appreciated! 



Profile picture for user vchiaramonte
Submitted by Vinny Chiaramonte on Mon, 10/01/2018 - 08:02


Bobby, so glad you are moderating this group this year! I meant to chime in when you first posted this discussion but got distracted just like a middle school student might :)

I am currently teaching CS to 6th-8th grade students at Bumpus Middle in Hoover, AL. There is a plan in place for me to change positions starting in January to plan, prepare, and develop the CS department at the Riverchase Career Connections Center opening in August 2019. This school is in the same district I currently teach in and we are extremely excited about the potential for this new school and our students!

Looking forward to continuing to work with CS teachers across the nation building our network and sharing great ideas, failures, and successes! 

Additionally, hello Nicole and Brenda!!



In reply to by Vinny Chiaramonte


Profile picture for user boommen
Submitted by Bobby Oommen on Wed, 10/03/2018 - 00:08

Hey Yo Vinny!

Great to hear from you. 

That's great news about starting a new CS department from scratch! I will be picking your brain about resources you used, decisions you made, and how things are progressing. We will learn a ton as we hear from you.

What grades will be at the Career Connections Center? Approx. how many students? 

Take care, 



Profile picture for user Rhonda Mullins
Submitted by RHONDA Mullins on Mon, 10/01/2018 - 12:43

Hi! I teach Cyber Foundations in the 6th grade at Kossuth Middle School.  I teach Computer Science 2nd semester.  I have 104 students.  This is my 23rd  year of teaching and my 2nd year to teach Computer Science so any help and suggestions will be welcomed.  Kossuth is located in  northwest Mississippi.  

I have one daughter who is a freshman in college--so proud of her!

Looking forward to sharing ideas!

In reply to by RHONDA Mullins


Profile picture for user boommen
Submitted by Bobby Oommen on Wed, 10/03/2018 - 00:19


Thanks for sharing and welcome to the community! It's always inspiring when teachers take risks (like posting on a forum like this), so way to go! 

I hope you find tons of help and suggestions in this community for your CS classes, but I'm also hoping that you'll share a ton of what you've used in these past two years of your CS class. In addition, you've probably got an amazing "Teacher Bag O' Tricks" (aka solid pedagogy) that you've developed as an educator. Can't wait for you to share that with us as well. 

Glad to have you as part of the community!  



Submitted by Terri Colbert on Mon, 10/01/2018 - 22:03

Excited to be a part of this group.  This is my first year teaching 7th and 8th graders Coding in the Middle School. Our school community is incredibly tech savvy because of our proximity to D.C. Right now, my students are burning through Code.org's Express course. I'm gonna need help keeping steps ahead of my students. ?

In reply to by Terri Colbert


Profile picture for user boommen
Submitted by Bobby Oommen on Wed, 10/03/2018 - 00:29

Welcome Terri! 

Ah, the excitement, yet trepidation, that comes when you've got a tech savvy group of kids who are burning through the lessons you have for them. I can understand that. We will have a discussion post on curricular resources / accommodations for accelerated learners in the near future...keep an eye out for it. 

Glad to have you, and thanks for taking a risk and posting! 



Profile picture for user nmcgowan
Submitted by Nancy McGowan on Tue, 10/02/2018 - 20:47

I am a K-5 Math Coach with a passion for CS due to its natural integration of math in a real world setting.  We enjoy unplugged activities as well as programs such as:  Scratch, Tynker, Code.org, etc. In the past, my students created Scratch programs using Google CSFirst Storytelling.  This is very easy for students to do and easily modified for beginners through experienced Scratch users.

In reply to by Nancy McGowan


Profile picture for user boommen
Submitted by Bobby Oommen on Wed, 10/03/2018 - 10:15

Hey Nancy, 

Thanks for sharing! There are so many good ideas in your post we can discuss here - Unplugged activities, curricular resources, coding tools, ideas for beginning as well as experienced students. That's good stuff! Hoping we'll be able to touch on a few of those over this academic year, and tap into some of the resources you use in your class.