Posted by CSTA Conference Committee on May 13, 2022

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Text reads: CSTA 2022 K-5 session recommendations
Here are some suggestions from the K to 5th Grade Committee.

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CSTA 2022 features over 200 sessions, and you don’t want to miss it! We know that navigating that much content can be overwhelming, so the K to 5th Grade Committee has highlighted specific sessions that they think you’ll love! 

Robots and Engineering in PK-5th 

Presented by Morgane Chevalier and Hal Speed
July 15, from 2:30-3:30 p.m. 
This session will focus on guiding students to foster computational thinking with robots combining construction and coding in grades 2-8 and social and emotional learning using a humanoid robot. 

Bringing Computer Science and CSEd Research to the Elementary Classroom 

Presented by Kim Wilkens, Francisco Canche, Allison Jonas, Alexandra Holter, Andrea Wilson Vazquez, and Melody Hagaman
July 17, from 9-10 a.m.
Engage with these mini sessions: 
  • K-5 CS Integration through Development of a Skills Progression  
  • Bringing CS Education Research into the K-8 Classroom  
  • LAUSD Elementary Computer Science Initiative: Supporting Teachers and Measuring Success

Introduction to the micro:bit with MakeCode

Presented by Katie Henry and Jacqueline Russell 
July 16, from 1-2 p.m. 
MakeCode is a “making and coding” programming language with a powerful simulator for making games and creating technological solutions in any classroom. In this hands-on session, we’ll work through micro:bit activities with Microsoft MakeCode, which uses a block-based coding language (JavaScript or Python). The purpose of this presentation is for educators to increase their confidence and computer science skills by learning how to use these free web-based tools and exploring how other teachers implement them in a variety of education settings. No tools required.

Coding with Scratch Junior in the PK-2 Years!

Presented by Andrea Flagiello 
July 16, from 1-2 p.m. 
You’re never too young to learn how to write computer code! In this workshop, PreK-2 teachers will gain the skills to integrate ScratchJr into their classroom curricula. Teachers will work as students to learn how to use ScratchJr, an app that makes it easy to bring coding into the PreK-2 classroom. Teachers will learn ways to support young students in creating animated stories and thereby building a foundation in coding and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) subjects. The process of making animated stories about any topic promotes creativity, problem-solving, higher order thinking, and digital literacy skills.  The ScratchJr interface offers low floor/high ceiling activities, making it accessible to students with varying abilities. Students create code by combining colored digital blocks labeled with symbols, then combine these blocks like puzzle pieces to make their characters move, shrink, grow, hide, and more, in endless combinations.  In this session, participants will receive tips, resources, and classroom routines for using the app on a tablet. Teachers will gain the skills needed to use ScratchJr successfully with their students. To get the most out of this presentation, participants should download the free app, ScratchJr, prior to the session.

Computer Science in Mainstream Children’s Literature

Presented by Julia Tyser
July 16, from 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Children’s literature provides a familiar and creative platform to understand abstract computer science concepts through the visual and verbal medium of books. This session will share the value of children’s literature integration in computer science, identify children’s books that focus on specific computer science topics or illustrate computer science content, and provide computer science tools that can enhance children’s literature comprehension. Attendees will have time to browse books, collect sample lessons, and add to the list of resources. They will leave with ideas, tools, and a platform to look for computational thinking and computer science in books they read all the time.

Breaking Barriers with Integration

Presented by Melissa Zeitz, Scott Wohlers, and Kirstin Joyce 
July 17, from 9-10 a.m. 
Discover how to break barriers through the integration of computer science with other elementary-level subjects. In this session, a classroom teacher from an urban district in Massachusetts shares the story of developing and implementing a K-5 CS curriculum that integrates into reading, writing, science, social studies, and math. Curriculum materials were designed by teachers in the district, with support from district leaders and researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, as part of a National Science Foundation Springfield research-practice partnership CSforALL grant. During this session, attendees will see artifacts from our students, hear testimonials from teachers, and experience a deep dive into several modules to see how this district integrated computer science into other content. Participants will leave with access to all currently published K-5 modules.

Twenty Things to Do with a Computer – Lessons from Papert

Presented by Prof. Miles Berry 
July 17, 10:30-11:30 a.m. 
The session begins by revisiting some of Seymour Papert’s writing, including the famous 1971 paper “20 Things to do with a Computer,” and books including Mindstorms, Constructionism, and The Children’s Machine. We’ll explore some of the suggestions he and Cynthia Solomon made in their 1971 paper and examine how to teach them using Scratch. Examples include making a turtle, playing games, turtle graphics, composing music, and creating drill and practice games.  We explore some of the lessons to learn from early experiences in Logo programming and its foundational place in the field of computer science. Then we’ll bring those experiences up to date with an exploration of how turtle graphics can be used for learning geometry and promoting digital creativity, concluding with some thoughts on how these activities can be incorporated into the elementary and middle school curriculum.  We’ll look at the present-day relevance of Papert’s insights, particularly in relation to learning through making, the role of programming, and its connections to computational thinking and independent learning. We’ll also consider some of the reasons why Logo programming failed to live up to its promise and consider how we can avoid making the same mistakes in today’s programming renaissance in schools.

CS Everywhere: STEM Outside the Lab and All Over the School

Presentd by Sarah FitzHenry and Carmen Loughner 
July 16, 10:30-11:30 a.m. 
Are you the only technology teacher in your school or district? Are you struggling to move past early adopters to more fully integrate computer science into a wide range of classrooms and subjects? Are you looking to get STEM out of the lab and all over the school? This hands-on, interactive session is for you!  Hear from an expert teacher about her strategies for building and maintaining relationships with grade-level teachers, effectively expanding her STEM programming outside of designated “technology time.” We’ll discuss integrating computer science and robotics into academic content, as well as relationship-building strategies to create robust CS professional learning communities where every teacher can learn together. This session aims to empower teachers to go beyond treating computer science as a special subject and start incorporating it into their classes themselves. Participants will collaborate and brainstorm hands-on ideas, using robots from BirdBrain Technologies, and will leave this session with helpful tips, concrete ideas, and free resources ready for the classroom.

Making Thinking Visible in Elementary CS Classes

Presented by Jason Rushing and Susan Prabulos 
July 15, from 9-10 a.m. 
Many students want answers to tricky problems, rather than ideas and strategies on how to solve the problems themselves. Participants in this session will learn how thinking routines and tasks can transform students’ approach to learning computer science and solving problems. First, we’ll explore the books behind the ideas: Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics, Grades K-12, by Peter Liljedahl, and Making Thinking Visible, by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison. Next, we’ll explore visible thinking routines and thinking tasks and discuss how to implement them in an elementary computer science setting.  Participants will walk away with classroom-tested content they can implement right away to help students deepen understanding and improve thinking skills. The provided activities are suitable for students in grades K-5, and all will be connected to CSTA standards.

Extending Computational Thinking to Math Problems

Presented by Brianna Wilkinson
July 15, from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
While we are working hard to achieve computer science for all, there are some subjects that already reach all students. How can we leverage connections with these subjects to find time for computer science? In this session, we’ll use examples from the EiE Computer Science Essentials curriculum to show how to make the connections between math and computer science. The session will focus on four key areas of computational thinking: decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, and algorithms. We’ll define each area and show a math activity that reinforces each skill for students. We’ll also discuss the different implementation models for teachers who are computer science specialists versus generalists. This presentation will include research about the impact of computer science learning on math performance, which participants can use to make a case to their schools for additional computer science time.

Cybersecurity for Elementary Students

Presented by Laurie Salvail and Brittany Pike 
July 16, from 9-10 a.m. 
This session aims to help attendees incorporate cybersecurity into an elementary school classroom. Participants will dive into age-appropriate cybersecurity tools that can be integrated into what is already being taught in the classroom. The activities discussed in this session help students understand basic cybersecurity components such as privacy policies, digital footprints, website credibility, choosing wireless connections, encryption, and more. Presenters will explain how to lead students to actively analyze and debate these important cybersecurity concepts at an age-appropriate level. Participants will discover how to use active learning to spark prior knowledge of these topics, and the resources shared in this session are easily modifiable for any classroom.

Teaching about Artificial Intelligence through Hands-On Projects 

Presented by Nancye Blair Black 
July 15, from 9-10 a.m. 
The Hands-On AI Projects for the Classroom series is a free, five-volume collection of activities that teach K-12 students what artificial intelligence is, how it works, and what impacts it can have on society. Available in English, Spanish, and Arabic, each of the project guides includes resources for engaging students in the topic of AI, connections to students’ real world experiences, scaffolded understanding of AI algorithms and applications through hands-on learning activities, and extensions to build on students’ interests.  This session will explore how the projects in this series can be used across grade levels and subject areas to address the Five Big Ideas in AI (perception, representation and reasoning, learning, human-AI interaction, and societal impact), the CSTA Standards, and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards. Through a variety of interactive demonstrations, attendees will learn about core AI concepts, gain strategies for teaching about this timely topic, and walk away with the resources they need to implement AI projects in their own schools and classrooms.

Reducing barriers to K-12 CS participation with UDL and CRP

Presented by Latoya Chandler, Maya Israel, Andrea Ramirez-Salgado, Lauren Weisberg, and Carla Strickland 
July 16, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. 
As CS education becomes more commonplace in the K-12 curriculum, it is critical to implement pedagogically inclusive approaches that increase CS access and participation among historically marginalized groups such as BIPOC, women, and individuals with disabilities. By integrating universal design for learning (UDL) and culturally responsive pedagogy (CRP) into project-based CS instruction, teachers can design equitable experiences that meet the needs of all learners. UDL is an inclusive approach to instruction that removes barriers to learning by promoting a variety of teaching methods and flexible learning environments. CRP is a student-centered learning approach grounded in the notion of cultural competence and the influence of behavior and environmental factors on learners’ self-efficacy and motivation. Inclusive and culturally responsive computing builds on these frameworks by facilitating connections between CS concepts and topics relevant to students’ learning needs and interests.  This workshop will provide teachers with hands-on, practical strategies for infusing a project-based CS lesson with UDL principles and CRP guidelines. We will share resources developed through a National Science Foundation project and explore ways to apply these equity approaches to existing CS curricula. Participants will collaborate to evaluate and design equitable CS instruction and consider the implications for their own classroom practice.

Computational Thinking as a Tool for Metacognitive Apprentices

Presented by Kathy Benson 
July 15, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. 
Good readers use metacognitive strategies when they read (monitoring comprehension, making connections, questioning, inferring, visualizing, determining importance, and synthesis). Not all students adopt such strategies naturally, so good reading instruction explicitly names, models, and teaches these strategies. Computational thinking (CT) learning is analogous. When students learn CT skills, they are developing metacognitive strategies and language to explain their inner conversations while coding. As with reading, high-quality CT instruction explicitly names, models, and teaches these skills. Teachers can leverage the parallels between CT and reading comprehension strategies to infuse CT into their English language arts (ELA) instruction and vice versa.  This presentation will share lessons that infuse the best of CT with the best of ELA reading comprehension strategy instruction. Participants will act as students in model lessons, practice infusing CT into sample ELA lessons, and brainstorm ways to include CT in their own instruction. At the conclusion of the presentation, the participants will cocreate a table of alignments between reading strategies and CT skills.

Strategies for Computer Science Content Integration

Presented by Kristen Franklin and Perry Shank 
July 15, from 1-2 p.m. 
In 2017, Virginia became the first state to mandate state CS standards from kindergarten through high school. On the principle that integration equals equity, the Virginia K-8 CS standards are meant to be integrated into the core curriculum so that all students encounter computer science daily. When teachers weave CS into core content, all students learn vital computational thinking skills, not just the gifted students or those that attend special afterschool STEM clubs. Unfortunately, integrating CS only results in equity when all teachers are adequately trained and the integration occurs regularly. In too many classrooms, teachers are not sure how to connect CS skills to the content they are already teaching.  In this hands-on session, participants will explore fully integrated K-8 lessons, using tools developed by the CodeVA curriculum team to collaboratively develop integrated CS learning experiences. Participants will take a simple idea, activity, or current lesson plan and, with provided resources, create an integrated lesson that is ready to use in the classroom. Participants will walk away with a variety of integration tools and skills to help them connect CS standards with other subject areas.
While we’ve selected a few sessions to highlight, we encourage you to check out the full agenda on the website. You can filter by grade band as well as CSTA teacher and student standards. Be sure to check out our equity-focused sessions across all grade levels. Be sure to register for CSTA 2022 before July 10!