Posted: Mon, 08/26/2019 - 2:16 pm EDT
Each month, we highlight a member of the CS for All Teachers community.
Name: Lisa Rode
Occupation: 6th-Grade Teacher
Workplace: Kings Glen Elementary in Springfield, VA
Years in education: 13
Years teaching computer science: 5 (integrating CS into core curriculum)
TEACHING COMPUTER SCIENCE (CS)
How did you start teaching CS? Do you have a background in CS?
I started incorporating CS into my classes after learning about the Raspberry Pi over one summer. I do not have a background in CS. I wanted to teach my students more about how computers work and how to write programs for a variety of purposes. I then investigated how we could use Raspberry Pi in different ways to include robotics. With the support of my school community, I won a grant from the Farmers Insurance Thank America's Teachers program to purchase GoPiGo robot kits. From there, I have learned alongside my students and we now incorporate a wide variety of thinking strategies, hardware, software, and different programming languages into the core curriculum.
What is your favorite CS project you have completed with your students?
My favorite CS project so far is our Mars rover unit. Last year the focus was to design, build, and test out rovers to send to Mars to help rescue Opportunity. We learned about a massive dust storm that encompassed Mars and how within a few days the solar panels on Oppy were impacted. Since Oppy was no longer able to communicate back to Earth, it was our job to help NASA. After creating, building, and testing robots, students were able to share their design ideas with a NASA scientist that came to our school. In previous years, we sent the rovers out on an unknown "planet" to look for life, investigate landforms, and gather temperature data. The students monitored their robots from mission control alongside the acting chief scientist of NASA at the time.
CS EDUCATION COMMUNITY
How do you get other teachers, administrators, and community members excited about CS?
By sharing the excitement, enthusiasm, and drive of my students when they work on projects involving robotics and programming. Also by making materials available to other teachers to try out on their own, with a group, or with their class.
What do you enjoy most about participating in CS for All Teachers?
Connecting with other educators
What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to potential CS educators?
As an elementary teacher, it can be intimidating to learn about and teach computer science concepts, especially when one does not have a background in CS. For teachers just getting started with CS or learning how to integrate it into core curriculum, I would like to share that failure is just a starting point and an integral part of learning. It can be hard to learn something new while keeping up with all the other requirements. Just like we encourage our students to try again and keep working towards their goals, it is important for teachers to keep that in mind as well when learning something new.
TELL US MORE!
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
Receiving the Fairfax County Public Schools Outstanding Elementary Teacher Award for 2019.
What do you do to recharge after a long day (or week, month, year, etc.) of teaching?
Going fishing or boating.