Posted: Thu, 10/01/2020 - 3:53 pm EDT
Each month, we highlight a member of the CS for All Teachers community.
"How to sip from the CS fountain of knowledge without drowning."
Name: Rebekah Lang
Occupation: Online Computer Science Teacher
Workplace: PA Homeschoolers AP Online Classes
Years in education: 12
Years teaching computer science: 4
TEACHING COMPUTER SCIENCE (CS)
What interests you about CS?
Computer Science has infiltrated all aspects of our lives and having a basic understanding of it is as important as literacy and numeracy. I am thrilled to be able to help students navigate in and contribute to this complex world around them.
Also, basic coding is largely about logical, creative problem solving--I LOVE that! I've always loved logic problems and puzzles of all kinds.
How did you start teaching CS? Do you have a background in CS?
While I had a half-hearted attempt in a high school class decades ago, and a little bit of exposure to coding when leading middle schoolers through "The Hour of Code," my background in CS really started when my daughter was born 3.5 years ago. I quit teaching in a brick-and-mortar school to stay home with her and wasn't sure what I would do next.
My mother-in-law convinced me that I could follow in her footsteps and teach computer science online, specifically AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) online. I worked through Code.org's curriculum that spring on my own, attended an AP CSP summer institute with CSPdWeek, and started teaching AP CSP in September to approximately 25 students online. Somehow, we all did well! We learned a lot together and my students passed the AP CSP exam with a 4.2 average!
This is now my 4th year teaching AP CSP online, and I've expanded from that single class to teaching Intro to CS through AP CSA (co-teaching with my mother-in-law) to about 120 homeschooled students! I'm learning so much and can say with confidence that CS is for ALL (teachers and students).
How have your CS students inspired you? What is your favorite CS project you have completed with your students?
My CS students continually inspire me with their grit. They continue to learn and try hard even after hours of debugging or tough tests. They Google information and find creative ways to learn and problem solve long after I've gone to sleep each night. They ask insightful questions and help each other to find solutions to challenging problems. They will make corrections to A- level tests to prove their understanding and earn As. They create community and build rapport even with the additional challenge of connecting in an online classroom across states and countries.
How do you recruit students into your CS classes?
I have started teaching an "Intro to CS" class to encourage students who are curious about the subject but not yet ready (or confident enough) for an AP level class. My hope is that this class will then recruit and prepare students for my AP classes. It seems to be working, one year in. My "Intro" students who have returned for AP CSP are incredible!
CS EDUCATION COMMUNITY
What excites you most about the current state of CS education in the US?
I am so excited to see that CS education is becoming a standard part of many states' K-12 curricula. It is absolutely a core subject!
What do you enjoy most about participating in CS for All Teachers?
I appreciate the community support from the other teachers, especially the sharing of creative resources and ideas.
Besides the CS for All Teachers community of practice, what is your favorite CS tool or resource?
What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to potential CS educators?
Don't wait until you are totally confident with CS to begin teaching it. Your students will learn so much from you modeling how to learn. Be a "guide on the side" not a "sage on the stage."
TELL US MORE!
Write a short poem describing what CS is like or what CS means to you:
Catch the syntax error there?
regardless of the number of chancesNeeded.
Learn more about code poems!
What do you do to recharge after a long day (or week, month, year, etc.) of teaching?
Most of my free time is spent parenting in some form or another. I enjoy board games and like playing Candy Land and Boggle Jr. with my 3.5 year old. I need to teach her now so I can have another competitive board game buddy when she's older.