St. Anne’s-Belfield hosts computer science institute for educators ⋅ Charlottesville Tomorrow

St. Anne’s-Belfield hosts computer science institute for educators


Educators from Albemarle County and beyond came to the St. Anne’s-Belfield School this week to practice coding, try out new educational technology and to learn from their peers at a two-day Computer Science Institute.


The free event, which concludes on Friday, was open to all K-12 educators, after-school instructors and other organizations and individuals that work with young people. At the conference, teachers were encouraged to develop their own lesson plans that incorporated computer science.


In 2016, Virginia became the first state to add computer science to its core academic requirements for elementary, middle, and high schools. The Virginia Department of Education is drafting Standards of Learning for computer science this summer.


Kim Wilkens, who teaches computer science at St. Anne’s Lower School, said this week’s professional development institute was influenced by a hackathon the school has hosted for high school students in the Charlottesville region.


“Local technology companies have brought in real-world problems for students to work on,” said Wilkens. “We wanted to do professional development for teachers that was more like that.”


Jeffrey Spies, co-founder and chief technology officer at the Center for Open Science, gave the keynote address on Thursday morning.


Spies shared lessons from managing the COS internship program. Over the last three years, the program has trained 127 technical interns—29 of whom were hired as full-time staff.


Spies said that students— like COS staff and interns— can become better independent learners if they redefine the way they interpret frustration.


“Learning is frustrating, and frustration can undermine learning,” Spies said. “But frustration is not failure… Frustration is just a cue that we need help.”


Spies said it was important for teachers to set limits on how often students…

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