K-8 Board Representative Nominees

The 2015 CSTA Board of Directors Elections will run from April 2, 2015 to May 4, 2015. Below is a blog post from one of our K–8 Representative Nominees. The CSTA K-8 Representative is a classroom teacher who is currently teaching or promoting computer science at the pre-high school level.

Candidate personal statements and Q&A responses can be found at http://csta.acm.org/About/sub/AboutFiles/2015Election.html.

When to Code?
Dylan Ryder

I often hear fellow elementary school teachers say that they would love to try coding in the classroom, but that they just can’t find the time in their schedules. Whether constrained by rigid state learning standards or held under the pressure of high stakes testing, educators around the country are sometimes seeing time for other subjects like Music, Art and even Science go by the wayside already – so how could they fit in Computer Science?

For many educators, participating in The Hour of Code is an exciting chance to try something new, but they feel that exactly one hour is all they have room to spare in the curriculum that they have to cover. So when can they code?

My feeling: anywhere and anytime.

It’s my view that an integrated approach to Computer Science education holds an answer to this challenge for elementary school educators. In our daily lives computer programming is a flexible tool that we use to solve problems and model knowledge from any and every other discipline there is. So why can’t we learn computing the same way in the classroom?

I recently heard a wise teacher say that while standards do define what we have to teach, they don’t exactly prescribe how we have to teach it. Think about enhancing any of your other subjects with computer programming activities. I’ve found wonderful opportunities to let students code animations based on their own writing from Literacy class, and I have challenged students to make Math quiz games. Creative coding opportunities abound as well. Code is a fantastic medium for Art and Music integrations – especially when students integrate sensor input as part of their programmed artworks and songs!

Recently, I saw a colleague’s 8th grade Math students showcase their work in the Bootstrap language. As part of their Algebra study, the students spent a few weeks making basic video games that required them to master mathematical concepts such as the coordinate grid, variables, and recursive algorithms. It was an absolute thrill for me to hear the students speak about the functionality of their games in mathematical terms, and more proof to me that there are endless opportunities for CS integration in all subjects.

My name is Dylan Ryder and I am a technology teacher at The School at Columbia University in New York City. I am currently nominated for election to the CSTA Board as K-8 Teacher Representative for the upcoming term. I look forward to the opportunity to serve and help CS education flourish in our schools.