As a 6th grade teacher, Takia Toomer spends a lot of time speaking at the front of the classroom. Last fall, she got a chance to speak in a very different venue: The White House Computer Science for All Summit.How did Ms. Toomer end up in Washington D.C.? Her story begins with a DonorsChoose.org professional development project, matched by our friends at Infosys Foundation USA. She shared the full tale on their blog, and we’ve pulled out our favorite quotes below.
We recently launched a new match offer supported by Infosys to help 6th-12th grade teachers attend computer science Professional Development trainings this summer.
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Why Computer Science?
As a 6th grade teacher, teaching Computer Science (CS) enables me to see kids achieve goals that they never dreamed of and/or knew that they had. I love how fast this generation catches on to new technology. Seeing my students think outside the box is very rewarding and I enjoy seeing their many achievements. For my students, successful CS education means making mistakes and learning from them, collaborating with others to brainstorm on how to make successful changes, rereading, redoing, planning, taking notes, critical thinking, problem-solving and of course a lot of hard work.[caption id="attachment_11403" align="aligncenter" width="720"]
Ms. Toomer (left) at a CS Professional Development Workshop[/caption]
Putting Theory into Practice
After returning from Bootstrap, I passed out applications for students to join the STEAM and Robotics Clubs. I received 45 applications, but only 5 were female applicants. Upon seeing this, I spoke to my three classes and asked all the girls why they hadn’t applied. Their response was that these clubs would be boring. Seeing is believing, so I had all of the students log into BootstrapWorld.org and complete a few lessons where students used code to create shapes and change the colors. Fortunately, this introduction to coding via bootstrap sparked an interest in my female students. After that hands-on introduction, the number of club applications (from girls) spiked, with many new female members going on to become some of the best coders in the clubs.
Ms. Toomer Goes to Washington
The Computer Science for All (CSForAll) Summit, timed to celebrate going back to school, is a consortium of 200+ organizations all focused on equipping all K-12 students with programming and computational skills. I was able to bring two of my best students with me to the White House. This would be a wonderful opportunity for any student, but especially for these two individuals. Originally from other countries, El Salvador and the Philippines, both students are still learning the intricacies of the English language, as well as the language of code. They still speak of going to the White House as the best day of their lives.