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Seize the Professional Development!

The Philadelphia Area chapter started providing professional development workshops to our members because they asked for it. We regularly query our membership as to how we can best serve them, and providing professional development is a perennial favorite.

This summer we were lucky enough to have received funding through CSTA and Google to provide a three day workshop for area Computer Science teachers. While I am sure that our attendees learned something valuable to them from our workshop (via survey results), I am happy to say that we learned a lot too!

One of the questions on our survey was "What topic would like to see CSTA>>Philly offer in future workshops?" The two responses that came to the top were CS-POGIL and Robotics. We were very glad that two topics were clearly chosen, because it made choosing the subject of our two Saturday workshops very easy!

We just had a Saturday workshop on CS-POGIL at Drexel University. Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning in Computer Science is quite the mouthful and many of the individual words are fraught with multiple meanings in CS, but it is a pedagogical approach to teaching computer science that has been proven to be successful in other STEM fields. It is a student centered approach that puts the teacher in a very different role in the classroom. At the end of our workshop, we had several groups of teachers and professors working together to create or convert lesson plans to this model.

It was great to spend a day with computer science teachers discussing HOW to teach computing concepts, not just WHAT to teach. I think we need to remember that teaching is an art and that the best way to teach Computer Science may not be the same as the best way to teach Language Arts or Algebra. We are a unique discipline.

Too often, school districts provide a "one-size-fits-all" type of professional development. This is for several very real reasons,not the least of which is cost. Therefore, when you have a chance to participate in professional development that is targeted and relevant to your field, take it!

Tammy Pirmann
School District Representative

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