Teaching Computer Science
We view computer science as a new form of literacy.
The Brooke Charter Schools are integrating computer science into the academic program for all students from kindergarten through high school. This is not just about learning to use computers as tools for their school work. Our goal is to give Brooke scholars the skills they need to design, create, solve problems, and express their own ideas using computer technology, while preparing them to continue studying computer science at the secondary school level.
As we see it, computer science has become a new form of literacy, as important as reading or math. To understand the world around them, students need to appreciate the relationship between computer hardware and software, develop fluency with the language and structure of computer programs, and have the chance to author their own code. As an added benefit, learning to code will help Brooke scholars develop persistence in the face of challenge, analytical abilities, problem-solving skills, and other positive habits of mind.
At the Brooke schools, computer science is treated as a core academic subject, taught by classroom teachers at each grade level, not by specialists. This approach has several long-term advantages: as teachers develop mastery of computing languages and tools, they’re able to more tightly integrate the teaching of computer science with the teaching of other topics in science and math and the humanities. This model can also more readily be adopted by schools without the resources to hire additional computer science teaching staff.
The Brooke curriculum comprises a sequence of age-appropriate learning activities, based on a mix of established and emerging technologies for K-8 computer science education. These include: 1) interactive browser-based coding activities (Code.org); 2) creative art, animation, and game design projects (Pencil Code, Scratch, and App Inventor); 3) robot building and programming challenges (LEGO WeDo and Mindstorms); and 4) “unplugged” computer science lessons, which teach computer science concepts through tabletop or kinesthetic activities.