Next week, February 17-23, 2019, is DiscoverE’s Engineers Week. Their tagline:
“A week-long event, a year-long commitment”
Do you wonder why anyone would be passionate about engineering? Forbes published three good reasons:
- The U.S. has approximately 1.6 million engineering jobs that pay $42 per hour in median.
- Job growth from 2010 to 2014 was in the double digits in several engineering occupations.
- Since 2007, the number of engineering grads nationwide has shot up 33%.
What is Engineers Week?
For those not familiar with DiscoverE, sponsors of Engineers Week, they are a volunteer-driven online coalition of over one-hundred organizations committed to promoting engineering to the K-16 community. This includes the provision of resources, programs, in-person presentations, classroom assistance, training, activities, videos, books, technology programs, and more. The purpose of Engineers Week is as much to celebrate engineers as to increase public dialogue, in that way bringing them to life for kids, educators, and parents. With the national call for STEM resources and the popularity of programs such as Hour of Code, the talented professionals of DiscoverE are more in-demand than ever.
“93% of DiscoverE educators think an engineer’s presence helps STEM students.”
No one who even glances at the news can deny the importance of cybersecurity experts. I know first-hand the dearth of qualified people available to fill these critical positions. If you’re a high school teacher trying to prepare students for a career in this field, Sam Bocetta, a retired cybersecurity analyst currently reporting on trends in cryptography and cybercrime, has some suggestions:
Creating cybersecurity programs for K-12 students is something schools and educations around the world are preparing for due to the rapidly increasing number of career paths in the field.
However, lots of them feel it’s hard to make such a complicated subject understandable at the K-12 level. Luckily there are technology & resources that are helping educations with the task of teaching cybersecurity to K-12 students…meaning that educators don’t have to just rely on the old school techniques like books & whiteboard drawings to teach the complicated subject of cybersecurity. This is not to say that the old methods that instructors may be already using aren’t effective.
Rather, when teaching such a complicated subject such as cybersecurity, it only helps students for them to be learning in an interactive digital environment. And it’s true that every student learns differently, so educators have the additional task of making sure each student learns to his or her strengths.
Next, we will outline some tips that will help educators prepare K-12 students for a career in cybersecurity:
Can’t Teach It If You Don’t Know It
Our first tip for preparing K-12 students for cybersecurity sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s something most don’t give a second thought to. An educator is going to have a very tough time teaching cybersecurity to K-12 students if they themselves don’t know the subject well.
So the first step any educator or educational institution can take to ensure their students learn cybersecurity the right way is to ensure any teacher who is providing instruction on the subject is trained in cybersecurity. The cybersecurity industry is changing all the time, so staying on top of all the new methods and tools can be a huge task.
However, there are boot camps and other training courses that educators or institutions can retain to ensure all teaching staff have the required industry knowledge to not only teach the subject but to teach it well.
The High School technology curriculum prepares students for their college-and-career future not by teaching widgets and programs—though that happens—but by showing them how to use the tech they have acquired throughout their education. How do they decide what program works best for what inquiry? How do they acquire the use of tools they have never before seen? How do they self-assess their knowledge, ensuring they acquired what they need? Don’t expect black-and-white answers. Success is more likely predicated on student transfer of knowledge than their ability to check off boxes on a rubric.
Here’s a quick overview of what you will find in this textbook:
- Scope and Sequence aligned with ISTE and Common Core
- Themed units tied into inquiry
- Experiential learning with real-world applications
- Opportunities for students to express and grow in their creativity
- International mindedness
- Articles on tech pedagogy
Each Unit includes:
- an emphasis on comprehension, problem-solving, critical thinking, to prepare for career and college
- Common Core Standards covered
- ISTE Standards covered
- essential question
- big idea
- materials required
- time required to complete
- domain-specific vocabulary
- problem solving
- steps to accomplish goals
- assessment strategies
- ways to extend learning
- project examples where appropriate
- grading rubrics where appropriate
If you participated in December’s Hour of Code, you may have come to realize the importance of Computer Science to students. Greg Beutler is the Director of Techscool.org, a school devoted to teaching kids this fundamental skill through the lens of robotics, coding, competitions, and more. The school’s tagline is Learn to code; Code to learn. Pretty pithy.
Here’s Greg’s informed perspective on this question:
Beyond job opportunities, why should all K-12 students learn about computer science?
Computer Science is an important subject for all students because it teaches you how to think. The act of writing a computer program requires you to think about how to create sequences which are step by step procedures on how to solve a given problem. CS also teaches the student, what sequences are run, what sequences should run if that sequence fails. CS teaches the student how to present that failure or success of that operation to the user via a GUI, and how the GUI should look and what the next outcome should be of the interactions between the user, the software and the computing device. Computer Science is an integrative subject, not siloed like other subjects taught at school.
Starting children early is best. To illustrate this I’ll use my favorite analogy, which is the baseball analogy. Both the little leaguer and a major leaguer perform the same operations, they catch a ball, throw a ball and hit a ball. But the major leaguer is much more talented and skilled. They have done all of those actions thousands of times in practice and games. They have honed their skill to a very great extent with competition and practice. They have a keen understanding of the game, the rules, and the winning strategies. They know where to hit the ball against a particular team in a particular situation. They know where to throw the ball in a particular situation. They can anticipate the actions of their teammates and opponents and react accordingly. Starting children early
gives them a wide arena of problems and problem-solving skills. The same applies to computer science. At a young age we can solve simple problems such as sorting different colored beads into different cups, then when we are older we can solve more complex problems such as writing a program using sorting algorithms for all sorts of items; including colored beads., which is called abstraction.
Here are the top five skills that most successful computer science students possess.
This December will again host the Hour of Code, a one-hour introduction to programming designed to demystify the subject and show that anyone can be a maker, a creator, and an innovator. Last year, almost 300,000 students (age 4-104) participated from over 180 countries and wrote almost 20 billion lines of code. The 200,000+ teachers involved came away believing that, of all their education tools, coding was the best at teaching children to think. It’s easy to see why when you look at fundamental programming concepts:
- abstraction and symbolism – variables are common in math, but also in education. Tools, toolbars, icons, images all represent something bigger
- creativity – think outside the box
- if-then thinking – actions have consequences
- debugging – write-edit-rewrite; try, fail, try again. When you make a mistake, don’t give up or call an expert. Fix it.
- logic – go through a problem from A to Z
- sequencing – know what happens when
If you’re planning to participate in Hour of Code, here are activities by grade that will kickstart your effort. They can be done individually or in small groups.
We’re hard at work on a high school technology curriculum. We’ve had a lot of requests for this and hope to have it available before the holidays.
If you’d like to be notified when the High School Technology Curriculum is available, click the image below and sign up:
Sara Stringer, Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, has a list of great websites for high school students. I don’t post enough about high school so I’m thrilled with her article:
Some students study more productively in groups, working with their peers. Online groups and forums allow them to ask questions and learn from each other outside the traditional classroom in a space where they typically turn to for studying anyway. Some of these tools give them the chance to share their own knowledge, while others let them search through published questions and answers to help them find the information they’re looking for.
Because there are so many study guides and websites available to students, we’ve asked the teachers and staff at CalPac to share their favorite online collaborative resources for high schoolers. Here are 10 of the most helpful forums and study group websites that encourage students to work and learn together.
Physics Forum began as a high school extra credit assignment in 2001, and since then, it’s developed into one of the most popular and helpful science forums on the web. The site provides a community for students and professionals to discuss all areas of science, although it does primarily focus on physics, as the name suggests.
World Literature Forum is an online discussion board that examines all forms of literature and literary news. It’s a place to discuss specific books (fiction and non-fiction) and discover new authors. Categories include general discussions, literature by continent, literary translation, and literary prizes.
Check out my article over at Western Governor’s University on how to update the classic bridge building lesson plan:
Over the past decade, a mainstay for middle school science programs has been building toothpick bridges. This type of school project—somewhat of a rite of passage in Project Based Learning—is intended to help teach students through hands-on experience. Similar projects include baking soda volcanoes, the infamous egg drop, and growing plants as a class. I remember assigning the bridge project to my students, as well as helping my own children with it, but I have since learned that the typical way of tackling this school project can leave students feeling dissatisfied.
I have written in the past about mysimpleshow, an easy and clever way educators can create explainer videos. Mysimpleshow is aligned with simpleshow foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the world. This summer, in cooperation with the United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC), they are participating in a summer volunteer program to encourage everyone to promote the United Nations 17 Global Goals in support of the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development:
In collaboration with the United Nations System Staff College, the simpleshow foundation has set up a volunteering program that aims to educate the world about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Using [the online tool] mysimpleshow, volunteers are encouraged to explain details and background of these 17 Global Goals of the Agenda 2030 in short and entertaining explainer videos. The program allows volunteers of all ages to gain a better grasp of the Agenda’s topics and help create a public understanding of the importance of these goals.
Volunteers can sign up at simpleshow-foundation.org.
When you sign up, you choose a topic, access mysimpleshow, and create your explainer video.
When I first visited UWorld’s College prep site, I expected what usually is included on free SAT/ACT prep sites–questions, answers, and a lot of cheerleading.
I should have known better. UWorld is a leading provider of question bank materials for professional licensing exams like USMLE, ABIM, and ABFM, considered by many to be the gold standard in test preparation. Now, UWorld has expanded into SAT prep (as well as ACT and AP prep). The site includes over 1200 questions written by experienced educators and designed to be similar to what students will find on the real SAT. With each question is a rigorous explanation, step-by-step instructions, and helpful images about the logic behind answers.
- Choose your difficulty level–low, medium, hard.
- Get hints to help you find a starting point for the answer.
- Customize practice tests to focus on mastering specific concepts within subjects.
- Create your own flashcards for quick review.
- Track your time and performance to improve your pace.
- Monitor progress with reports and graphs.
- Compare your results to peers as a gauge of performance. This includes questions they got correct, how much time they took answering individual questions, and the types of questions they are struggling with.
- Identify weaknesses and improve strengths.
- Flag questions that you’d like to review later.
- Define difficult words from within the app (for reading prep).
Registered students can access questions at the pace they’d like, take full timed tests to build test-taking stamina, pause during testing, flag questions they want more work on, save generated tests to finish or retake later, and more.