1. Lisa Milenkovic
  2. Science Supervisor
  4. Broward County Public Schools, Outlier Research & Evaluation at Univ of Chicago
  1. Annmargareth Marousky
  2. Computer Science Coordinator
  4. Broward County Public Schools
  1. Debra Thomas
  2. Computer Science Instructional Specialist
  4. Broward County Public Schools

Investigating Conceptual Foundations for a Transdisciplinary Model Integratin...

NSF Awards: 1542842

2016 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades K-6

This video will present a curriculum development and research project, funded through a National Science Foundation (NSF) STEM+Computing Partnership Exploratory Integration grant and awarded to Broward County Public Schools. The purpose of the project is to develop a model for the integration of STEM and computer science in the elementary day. The research will identify support structures and develop and test the effectiveness of STEM Problem-based Learning (PBL) units that integrate computer science in grades 3-5.

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Original Discussion from the NSF 2016 STEM For All Video Showcase
  • Icon for: Annmargareth Marousky

    Annmargareth Marousky

    May 16, 2016 | 10:33 a.m.

    This video was created to give the viewer an overall understanding of our grant expectations, especially since it’s just getting off the ground.

    Starting this upcoming academic year, our selected 3rd – 5th grade classes will utilize science and social studies standards-based units that incorporate computer science and computational thinking. We hope to show that students can improve their learning (make gains) while working with the 21st century skills found in computer science. These skills include finding patterns, collaborating, breaking down information into easier to process pieces, creating sequence of events to complete a task, and assessing their own learning to make improvements.

    We’re interested in your thoughts on the concept that computational thinking skills are a great vehicle to improved learning in other content areas.

    Enjoy the video!

  • Icon for: Katie Rich

    Katie Rich

    May 16, 2016 | 09:25 p.m.

    Hi Lisa, Annmargareth, and Debra,

    I really admire the bold approach at integration that you’re taking in this project. I’m interested in hearing more about how you’re approaching professional development for teachers.

    It seems to me that there are multiple paradigm shifts to approach during professional development. One in the inclusion of new kinds of content, like computer science, into elementary school. The other is organizing instruction around projects, rather than particular academic subjects. How are you addressing each?

    How much professional development does each participating teacher get? What parts are done before the modules are implemented, and what kind of ongoing PD happens during the school year?

  • Icon for: Annmargareth Marousky

    Annmargareth Marousky

    May 17, 2016 | 10:18 a.m.

    In our district there has already been a shift over the past few years to utilize integrated, problem-based or STEM units of study to make the most of a teacher’s academic day. Using this established method of instruction, we are hoping to build on existing foundation to integrate the newer CS curriculum into the elementary day.

    All our teachers (control and treatment) are being offered professional development from Code.org to improve their understanding of computer science and computational thinking. This training will be available throughout the school year.

    They are also being offered multi-day professional development on integrated units of curriculum for their grade level. The control schools will focus on their existing standards curriculum and how to create units while the treatment schools will be given direct instruction on the methods and use of the CS integrated units. This training will take place at the beginning of the academic year for the first module.

    The treatment schools will receive a second training before implementing Module 2 in the middle of the school year.

    Throughout the year, my co-coordinator and I will visit the schools several times to, observe, support and continue planning with the grade levels. We believe that a strong support structure must be implemented to make the modules successful.

    Thank you for viewing our video and your wonderful question. I hope my response was clear and welcome any feedback.

  • Icon for: Katie Rich

    Katie Rich

    May 18, 2016 | 10:09 a.m.

    Thanks, Annmargareth. This response is thorough and helpful.

    What additional challenges do you think you might face if you attempted something like this in a district that wasn’t already shifting to problem-based units?

    I’d invite others not involved with the project to comment on this as well. What challenges would you face if you tried to implement integrated modules like this into schools in your district?

  • Icon for: Annmargareth Marousky

    Annmargareth Marousky

    May 19, 2016 | 08:53 a.m.

    If you were in a district that did not use integrated units, then the first Professional Development would need to be centered around the purpose, use and simple creation of an integrated unit. Although some liken this model to thematic units, the main difference is that these units require an understanding of standards from various subjects and how they might work well together. With that thought, a professional development portion that included “unwrapping the benchmarks” might be needed to understand the standards before you can begin manipulating them.

  • Icon for: Irene Lee

    Irene Lee

    May 17, 2016 | 07:49 a.m.

    Hello Presenters,
    I have a question about the use of the integrated literacy block as the time when CS was introduced. From the diagram shown at roughly 0:33, it seems that the block makes up half the school day. During that time is CS integrated into various existing science and literacy activities OR is CS considered a science literacy activity? I’d love to see examples of both.

  • Icon for: Annmargareth Marousky

    Annmargareth Marousky

    May 17, 2016 | 10:39 a.m.

    The integrated literacy block model that you are referring to shows that 180 minutes is available to the teacher to use for a dedicated reading block and integrated units. It really is about half the academic day.

    During 90 minutes of the 180-minute time block, teachers will instruct in science, social studies and/or computer science, as focused by the module. Literacy skills are integrated throughout the lessons because, in all honesty, isn’t literacy the tool we use to learn a concept?

    We are using CS as part of standards-based learning, such as in lessons that ask students to create an algorithm to help a sailor navigate from the main land to an island on a grid map layout. Also, we will have lessons that are strictly CS such as programming an Ozobot to move from one place to another as part of a lesson on the systems of the human body.

    By using both approaches, we hope to get teachers as exciting about CS and its place in their curriculum as their students will be. We want CS to be a visible, integrated part of the curriculum.

    Thank you for viewing our video and your question. We will be documenting our progress and likely will share next year if we make another video. Stay tuned! :0)

  • Icon for: Sarah Dunton

    Sarah Dunton

    ECEP Alliance Manager
    May 17, 2016 | 11:46 a.m.

    Your model seems inclusive and collaborative, there is a diverse team of leaders involved in development. I appreciate the use of the non-negotiable literacy block as a space for CS education. What pushback, if any, have you received? I work in CS Education reform, with the Expanding Computing Pathways project. Our team is often asked about where CS can go in the K-12 school day. Some folks in education see CS as pushing other subjects out, some see CS as a subject that can and should be integrated.

  • Icon for: Annmargareth Marousky

    Annmargareth Marousky

    May 22, 2016 | 12:45 p.m.

    So far everyone seems very supportive and enjoys the idea that it will not be an “additional” subject but rather one that works within the existing curriculum. We plan to document and respond to pushback as it occurs. I think the pushback might actually help generate a more effective program.

  • Icon for: Evan Korth

    Evan Korth

    May 19, 2016 | 12:13 a.m.

    I think your model of meeting other standards while teaching CS is a great idea.

    I’m curious about your professional development model. What precisely do you do with the teachers? How long is the PD? I have been involved in CS Ed for a decade and a half but know little about successful approaches at this grade level.

  • Icon for: Annmargareth Marousky

    Annmargareth Marousky

    May 22, 2016 | 12:56 p.m.

    Our initial teacher PD is a 1/2 hour treatment school introduction so they can start processing expectations and generate questions. We will then move into a 3 day PD with 1 day focusing on computer science & computational thinking in general and days 2-3 focusing on the specific module and implementation planning by the teachers. During the implementation of the modules, we will meet with the teachers to tweak and plan continuation. We are viewing our PD as dynamic and responsive to the teacher needs. I think the most important aspect of our PD is that we are willing to support informally as well as formally throughout the implementation of the modules. I truly believe that our PD will be shaped by the needs of the participants and our ability to create a support structure and open lines of communication.

    Next year’s video (if we make one) will document our PD experience and choices especially since it seems to be a reoccurring question from many areas. Of course, feel free to contact us during the upcoming academic year and we’ll share our success and learning opportunities.

  • Icon for: Meghan Welch

    Meghan Welch

    Post Doctoral Research Associate
    May 23, 2016 | 07:30 p.m.

    Hi Annmargareth — After watching your video, it seems our projects have more in common than I thought! I think it is great that you all are working within the mandatory literacy block so the teachers don’t feel like it is just another thing they have to do… I think our teachers have felt that way. Yes, lets set up a time to talk.

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