Posted: Tue, 11/12/2019 - 2:13 pm EST
Each month, we highlight a member of the CS for All Teachers community.
Name: Naomi Harm
Occupation: STEM Innovation Specialist and Women in Leadership Strategist
Workplace: Innovative Educator Consulting
Years in education: 25
Years teaching computer science: 7
TEACHING COMPUTER SCIENCE (CS)
What interests you about CS?
What interests me most about CS is how connected it is to everything we do.
How did you start teaching CS? Do you have a background in CS?
I was first exposed to DOS programming in high school in the late 1980's. Then, I started doing data entry as a part-time lab tech in Luana, IA, while in college.
Early on in my teaching career, I built a supportive classroom web page for my fourth- and fifth-grade students to differentiate their collaborative learning with online web quests. Then I built and coded my own web page with the MS FrontPage program. At the time, you had to use a floppy disk and dial-up modem to get all the pieces to work! I failed many times. My lines of code were incorrect and the functions didn't work. But I continued on and ultimately perfected the code to best represent a visual display playback that would appeal to end users. I was the first educator in my K-12 school to have a web page for students, parents, administrators, and community members.
I started actually teaching CS by working and learning side-by-side with other female K-12 educators in the midwest. Velvet Holmes, Angie Kalthoff, and Deb Norton were my inspirational guides. It was HOW they taught hands-on learning and connected the WHY for computer science that fascinated me the most. They personalized the teaching and learning experiences for each group they worked with, and it made perfect sense how it all fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
How have your CS students inspired you? What is your favorite CS project you have completed with your students?
The educators I work with have inspired me to create projects for them and their students. Three of my favorite projects are Coding Fairytale Adventures, Talking Paper Dolls to Build SEL Character Development, and Magical Coding Recipes.
How do you recruit students into your CS classes?
I recruit educators into my CS classes by providing them the following:
1. Realistic learning outcomes to meet their busy schedules.
2. Timely learning projects, examples, and templates that can be implemented in 15-, 30-, or 45-minute time blocks.
3. Projects that connect with students' personal interests or passions as well as the world around them.
CS EDUCATION COMMUNITY
How do you get other teachers, administrators, and community members excited about CS?
I offer challenge-based STEM and CS learning activities to hook their interest from the get-go. They need to be active learners and participants with hands-on learning experiences. I walk them through modeled instruction to show how easily a learning outcome and standard can be met and assessed.
What excites you most about the current state of CS education in the US?
The differentiation of CS projects and learning opportunities. Check out the DIY site and Curiosity Machine Design Challenges as examples. The whole premise of these sites is to build a community of makers, design thinkers, and STEM engineers to create new solutions to improve our world and how we interact with one another. These sites showcase and model how CS is connected to everything we do.
What do you enjoy most about participating in CS for All Teachers?
The sharing of community resources and best practices with other like-minded educators, and the opportunity to learn at a pace that fits my busy teaching schedule.
Besides the CS for All Teachers community of practice, what is your favorite CS tool or resource?
I have so many - it's hard to name just one! I am really interested in applied robotics and computational thinking. I truly enjoy working and learning with 3 Doodler, Lego Education, Makey Makey, Wonder Workshop, and LED Circuity projects and robotics. I need hands-on learning experiences to make the learning stick and build my confidence when teaching it to others. I really like the immediacy and feedback of learning when working with tangible STEM and CS tools and resources, so I can apply these to more complex teaching and problem-solving situations.
What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to potential CS educators?
I have a few pieces of advice:
1. Two brains are better than one. Find a teacher teammate/colleague to collaborate with to make the learning more fun, creative, insightful, and meaningful.
2. Start small. Try CS activities and lessons in snack-able chunks through 15-minute content rotation stations of activities that include unplugged, low-tech, and advanced tech options to reach and meet all your students' needs.
3. Allow your students to be the co-teachers in your centers. Let them lead and showcase their CS learning to build leadership and improve their communication, collaboration, and presentation skills.
TELL US MORE!
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
Giving a keynote address at the LEGO Education in Denmark on why hands-on teaching and learning experiences are the secret ingredient to building life-long learning confidence in CS and STEM skills.
Write a poem or haiku describing what teaching CS is like.
Drawing is an artist's most creative and spontaneous expression of one's vision.
A form of writing - as it reveals its true personality.
What do you do to recharge after a long day (or week, month, year, etc.) of teaching?
I like to take a tranquil, relaxing family vacation by a large body of water, enhanced by no or very limited technology use that could impede upon quality time with family.