Computer Science for All

Angela Canham is a PLTW Teacher at Rosamond Elementary in Rosamond, California. Angela teaches PLTW Launch to grades K-5 every day, as well as one period of PLTW Gateway at the middle school. This is Angela’s fifth year of teaching PLTW and third year as a PLTW Launch Master Teacher. 

I am lucky. Five days a week, I get to inspire kids to love STEM. I have a cart that I load up with my iPads and PLTW Launch materials, and I deliver science door to door at my elementary school in the small town of Rosamond, California. For the past two years, it was only for 4th and 5th grades. This year I get to visit all the grades, and it has been so much fun! The enthusiasm of the little ones makes me feel like a rock star every time I walk through the door. It's not me, though; it's the curriculum that they love so much. I can't tell you how many times a day I hear an enthusiastic primary student shout, "I love science!” That is the power of Project Lead The Way.

Three of the classes I'm visiting this year are our Special Day Class (SDC) classes. These are special education classes for students with mild/moderate special needs and moderate/severe special needs. The class I want to highlight in this post is the 4th and 5th grade SDC class for students with mild/moderate special needs. After talking to the teacher, we chose to work on the PLTW Launch module Animated Storytelling. They absolutely loved it! It was definitely challenging for them, but not too challenging.

We started with the unplugged activities, Scratch Skits and Rosie's Runtime. The skits were adorable, and the students didn't have any reservations about acting out the different commands in front of the class. They were jumping and barking with delight as they acted out the skit. Rosie's Runtime was more challenging, but they still enjoyed trying to get from the hydrant to the doghouse.

Scratch Jr. was an enormous hit! They loved all the characters and creating the scenes. In addition to learning to use simple code, they were developing their storytelling skills by creating a story of their own for the final project. The stories they created were adorable and well done.

What’s notable is that many of the children who benefit the most from this program are the ones who may not typically have academic success. My best builders and doers, for instance, are often children who can't sit still for long periods of time. These are our future engineers because they look at the world with a different perspective and tend to be more creative.

In one of the SDC classes, one of the strongest computer programmers is a student who struggles a great deal with writing, but his coding skills are beyond those of any of his classmates. This program is truly Computer Science for All. Every child has an opportunity and the means to be successful. That is why I will be a PLTW cheerleader for life.

PLTW’s blog is intended to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of each guest author.