St. Vrain teachers get lesson on integrating computer science

About 65 St. Vrain Valley teachers, counselors, librarians and coordinators attended a day-long symposium Monday at Longmont's Timberline K-8 to learn about integrating computer science principles into their lessons.

Axel Reitzig, program director of St. Vrain's Innovation Center, said the symposium kicks off the district's work to develop a K-12 computer science framework.

The framework would detail computer science standards at each grade level and suggest resources for teachers, he said. The district also is looking at providing more teacher training opportunities.

"We have to start getting some traction in making sure our students are learning computer science," he said. "We want our students to be active producers and problem solvers with technology, not just passive consumers."

The symposium also was designed to build on a recent collaboration between St. Vrain Valley and the University of Colorado at Boulder's "Engaging Computer Science in Traditional Education" project. Through the project, CU computer science graduate students were paired with St. Vrain teachers.

"I want participants to have a better understanding of what computing is," said project director Debra Goldberg. "It's not just sitting in boxes working on computers. Computing is everywhere. It's really becoming essential to have a basic understanding of how computing works."

The symposium was hosted by the "Engaging Computer Science in Traditional Education" program, St. Vrain Valley's Innovation Center and the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

Topics included "computational thinking" and why it's an essential skill, ways to incorporate computing into most any academic subject, and information about college and career pathways.

The day ended with teams from participating schools developing an action plan for further developing computer science education at their schools.

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Linz Craig teaches the "Running the Code Obstacle Course" class during the Computing by Design Symposium on Monday at Timberline K-8 (Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer)