Ron Garbutt is a mathematics and computer science teacher at Absegami High School in Galloway Township, New Jersey.
The subject of computer science at Absegami High School retired with my own comp sci teacher, Mr. Cirig. When I returned to my alma mater in my second teaching assignment, there was a growing need for applicable subject matter and computer science was brought back on the table.
Project Lead The Way was the best way to get the professional development and curriculum we needed to get the program off the ground. Eighty-four students signed up for Introduction to Computer Science, and I was off to Rochester Institute of Technology for summer training. I came back to New Jersey with a ton of knowledge and a great network of teachers who I knew I could lean on. Still, approaching the first year, the task of teaching a new subject was a bit daunting, especially since I’d be leading four classes!
The students responded well to the activities leading up to the project. When it was time for them to explore and develop their own app in the first project, students were a little hesitant and not sure what to do with the open-ended format. The outcomes were good, but they definitely left room for growth. The next time around, the students were more willing to go out on a limb with their projects, and I saw brick-breaker games, student planners, and even an asteroid-shooting game. After hooking up the apps to the Internet, some students came completely out of their shells. We had games with virtual leaderboards, study buddy apps, and even a live update schedule app for our local Field of Dreams.
It was really neat to see the growth of the types of projects that the students were creating throughout the year, but what was even more amazing was what the students were willing to try and able to accomplish. It was also surprising to see what understanding students were able to gain in a semester. I am really looking forward to watching this program and the students develop. It will be interesting to see what they will create this year and beyond.
I just returned from Computer Science Principles (CSP) Core Training, and our school plans to implement the full range of PLTW Computer Science courses. Two years ago, Absegami had zero computer science classes. We will enter this year with six full classes. Back from the dead, computer science is the class everyone wants to get into!
PLTW’s blog is intended to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of this guest author.