How Do You PLAN FOR A Successful CS Collaboration Project?

Hello MS World!

Two weeks ago, I shared some thoughts on beginning a successful CS collaboration project. This week I’d like to talk about planning a successful CS collaboration. Basically, once you’ve decided, how do you roll out the project in a way that will be successful for the students, the collaborating teacher, and you?

Here’s a checklist of things that I go through...what about you?

  1. How many days will I have in their class?

  2. Do I need to  check out a laptop cart?

    1. We have a certain number of carts in my school, and I have to make sure that I’ve reserved carts well in advance of any project.

  3. Do I need to install any software?

    1. Our school uses Jamf to manage iPads and our Mac carts, so if there’s software that’s needed for an upcoming project, IT can directly install it on machines, or have kids install it from our “self-service” feature on Jamf.

  4. What type of instruction is best in light of the time in the classroom and the type of work that is supposed to be produced?

    1. Huddle/Break approach - I’ve found that when I work on projects in Scratch where students are telling stories, then I can have the group huddle to teach a few concepts (how to broadcast, or edit sprites, for example), and then give time for students to work independently. I usually have 2-3 huddles within a 55 minute period. With huddle/breaks, I try to create slides. See these slides as an example.

    2. Tutorial Videos - In situations where time is limited, or where there is a range of skills, or where the programming is beyond current student knowledge, I will create tutorial videos and upload them to my YouTube channel. I still wrestle with creating tutorial videos (mostly because I wonder how much the kids are actually learning), but since the goal is the collaboration, I’m ok with it.

  5. Do I need to prep any files in advance?

    1. In some projects, I give the kids some starter code (usually because there are time constraints). I then have to think how to best give students access to the code. For a data visualization project in Python, students needed to select what type of graph they’d create, and write the code in Python. Because of time constraints, I created starter code for each of the graph types, zipped them up, and uploaded them to our school’s SMS. Students then just had to download the files and work from there.

  6. Do the students need any graphic organizers to have success with the CS component?

    1. I collaborate with the teacher to develop any graphic organizers that will best translate their thoughts to the CS tool we are using. For example, when 5th graders were creating stories in Scratch, we used this organizer to prep the slides they were going to create. The 5th grade science teacher and I created this planning sheet to help students organize their arduinos. I just finished a data visualization project using Python with 8th graders, and in our debrief, the teacher and I agreed that the students needed more in the graphic organizer we originally created to help them sketch out the graph they want to create.

Those questions usually set me, the collaborating teacher, and the students for the best possible outcome. What questions do you ask yourself when you plan a collaboration? Any helpful tips or suggestions? Please share below!

Next week we will talk about how to conclude a collaboration project. Until then, have a great rest of the week!




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Submitted by Nancy McGowan on Sun, 03/17/2019 - 21:19


One of the first items I review are the educational standards for the grade level.  CS may look like an "extra", but many times you are able to encompass several standards from more than one subject area.  This makes integrating CS a very powerful learning tool. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your planning! It was very helpful.


In reply to by Nancy McGowan


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Submitted by Bobby Oommen on Fri, 03/22/2019 - 11:51


This is great! Another benefit of looking at standards is that the cooperating teacher has more evidence (esp. for their department chairs or other supervisors)  that the collaboration isn't merely a diversion, but further reinforces what the students have been learning.