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Google's New Computer Science Teaching Fellows Program in South Carolina

In a couple of weeks, a team of Teaching Fellows from Google will begin leading various after-school computer science (CS) programs throughout the Charleston area. Based in South Carolina at Google's Berkeley County data center. The Computer Science Teaching Fellows program is an initiative aimed at preparing new STEM teachers and CS graduates to become K12 CS teachers. These fellows, hailing from around the U.S., are the first cohort in a two-year fellowship practicum that will increase the number of students learning computational thinking and CS. Since starting in mid-June, there has been much excitement and curiosity about the program. Specifically, we are often asked about the implementation details of the program, and if we will be sharing what we learn from all of the exploration we are planning to do. I'm pleased to say that we have much to share already and that there will be even more to pass along as we continue to grow the program.

Starting in June, the fellows began their immersion into the world of CS education. For those fellows with a background in CS, the process involved intensive training in pedagogy as well as numerous opportunities to gain teaching experience through lessons and activities. The other fellows, with a background in STEM teaching, were immersed in a series of in-depth lessons on CS and CS education. Both groups, after much training and development, are currently preparing to enter their first after school classrooms!

Through this process, the fellows are exploring various curricula (such as Bootstrap, Exploring Computer Science, and App Inventor Lessons) and programs (such as Scratch, App Inventor, and Blockly) to determine which are most appropriate for their initial target student population - 4th and 5th grade students. We have two research fellows focused on evaluation and measurement, so we can acquire the data we need to improve and iterate. In my own experience as a middle school teacher, I always found that my preparation was significantly bolstered by conversations with those who have had both successes and failures identifying new and exciting ways to teach. We are finding that many of our fellows are coming to the same conclusion.

What does that mean for you, a member of CSTA? As a new program coming into a space with many outstanding leaders and key stakeholders, we will need your help. We hope that the CSTA community will get involved as our fellows begin their work. Conversely, we want to do what we can to help. Our team is excited to learn more about what you're doing and to learn from those that have worked for years to shape CS education. Your track record is an invaluable asset and we hope that you'll be interested in sharing your expertise. For those of you in SC, NC, or GA we will be joining the CSTA South Carolina Chapter for their October meeting. We will be sharing what we've learned so far and I hope (if you can join us) that you can share with us!

Cameron Fadjo,
Program Lead, Computer Science Teaching Fellows

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