Korean ed­u­ca­tors visit Charles County Public Schools

Look for ways to learn from, col­lab­o­rate with sys­tem on com­puter science ed­u­ca­tion

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

A group of ed­u­ca­tors and in­struc­tion spe­cial­ists from the Repub­lic of Korea (South Korea) en­gaged in a wide-rang­ing dis­cus­sion last week with Charles County Public Schools of­fi­cials re­gard­ing com­puter science ed­u­ca­tion.

“It ap­pears you are do­ing an ex­cel­lent job, and we would like to work with you so that we can im­prove our pro­gram and help you also,” Kapcheon Shin, a Korean teacher and board di­rec­tor for the As­so­ci­a­tion of Teach­ers in Com­put­ing, said through an in­ter­preter.

The Korean rep­re­sen­ta­tives were part of the In­ter­na­tional Vis­i­tor Lead­er­ship Pro­gram and were vis­it­ing the United States to learn more about its com­puter science and soft­ware ed­u­ca­tion, said CCPS spokes­woman Shel­ley Mackey. Mackey said the Na­tional Science Foun­da­tion rec­om­mended they visit Charles County due to its ef­forts to ex­pand com­puter science ed­u­ca­tion, which the NSF, which has part­nered with CCPS, learned more about dur­ing a “CS4All”

pre­sen­ta­tion to of­fi­cials in the spring of 2016.

Kim­berly Hill said that when she be­came su­per­in­ten­dent of CCPS in 2013, one of her first goals was to im­prove ac­cess and ed­u­ca­tion in tech­nol­ogy.

“I said, we need to move for­ward in STEM [Science, Tech­nol­ogy, En­gi­neer­ing and Math­e­mat­ics] ed­u­ca­tion, and the next step in STEM ed­u­ca­tion in Charles County was com­puter science,” Hill said.

As part of that ini­tia­tive, com­puter science con­cepts were in­fused into the cur­ricu­lum at all grade lev­els and all schools.

“What sets us apart from other dis­tricts in Mary­land is that we are one of the first to have re­ally, truly in­te­grated com­puter science through­out all three lev­els [el­e­men­tary, mid­dle and high school],” said Traci Chap­pe­lear, co­or­di­na­tor of ca­reer and tech­nol­ogy ed­u­ca­tion for CCPS.

Chap­pe­lear said el­e­men­tary school stu­dents have 50 min­utes of com­puter class once per week; in ad­di­tion, com­puter science and com­pu­ta­tional think­ing are in­te­grated across all sub­ject ar­eas, us­ing Bee Bots, ro­bot­ics and Code.org ac­tiv­i­ties, amongst oth­ers.

Dongjin Shin, deputy di­rec­tor of the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, said through an in­ter­preter that in Korea, com­puter science ed­u­ca­tion be­gins around fifth grade.

“Is it ap­pro­pri­ate to ex­pose the chil­dren at such a young age?” Dongjin Shin asked.

Hill said even the youngest stu­dents are ready for ed­u­ca­tion in com­pu­ta­tional think­ing.

“Re­search has shown that as early as age 4, chil­dren are be­gin­ning to be able to nav­i­gate mul­ti­step di­rec­tions and pro­cesses,” Hill said. “Chil­dren are able, but we weren’t pro­vid­ing them the ex­po­sure to this type of in­struc­tion.”

Re­becca Pear­son, ca­reer and tech­nol­ogy ed­u­ca­tion spe­cial­ist, said in­volv­ing stu­dents at a young age helped open their minds to fields they might not oth­er­wise have con­sid­ered.

“We wanted to grab stu­dents be­fore they’d made their minds up about what they’re good at and not good at,” Pear­son said.

In mid­dle school, com­puter science is in­te­grated in science and al­ge­bra cour­ses, as well as arts, with in­struc­tion in dig­i­tal lit­er­acy, cy­ber­se­cu­rity and other top­ics, Chap­pe­lear said.

In high school, stu­dents are re­quired to take cour­ses to ful­fill a tech­nol­ogy ed­u­ca­tion credit for grad­u­a­tion. There is also a com­puter science com­pleter path­way.

“Ev­ery sin­gle stu­dent is grad­u­at­ing with a foun­da­tional knowl­edge in com­puter science,” Chap­pe­lear said.

In­soon Seo, a teacher at Osan In­for­ma­tion High School, said that in Korea, com­puter science pro­grams are spe­cific to science or gifted and tal­ented high schools.

“We don’t have just one school that has com­puter science, or one level that has com­puter science, it’s in all of our schools for all of our chil­dren,” Hill said.

In ad­di­tion, there are dur­ing and af­ter school clubs in com­puter cod­ing and ro­bot­ics at all grade lev­els, said Si­mone Young, CCPS co­or­di­na­tor of STEM ed­u­ca­tion.

The goal, Hill said, was not to pro­duce “26,000 com­puter sci­en­tists,” but to pro­vide ac­cess to com­pu­ta­tional think­ing and tech­nol­ogy skills to meet the var­ied ca­reer de­mands of the 21st cen­tur y.

“I be­lieve that the skills that you learn in com­puter science are ap­pli­ca­ble across all sub­ject ar­eas,” Hill said. “When you learn com­puter science, you learn about logic, you learn about crit­i­cal think­ing, you learn about per­se­ver­ance and the abil­ity to break a prob­lem down into small pieces and to work to­gether to solve that prob­lem.”

Hyun Kim, deputy di­rec­tor with the Min­istry of Science, ICT and Fu­ture Plan­ning, said through a trans­la­tor that he hoped there would be more op­por­tu­ni­ties for col­lab­o­ra­tion with CCPS.

“We thought, be­fore we came here, we in Korea were do­ing the best job, but we have a lot to learn from you,” Kim said. “We’d like to dis­cuss ways to ex­change and ex­pand our com­puter science classes and com­pu­ta­tional skills classes and es­tab­lish some sort of a part­ner­ship so we can con­tinue to learn from each other.”

Hill said the dis­cus­sion was a won­der­ful ex­change be­tween adults, but she would like to see it ex­tend to in­clude stu­dents as well in the fu­ture.

“Wouldn’t it be won­der­ful if our stu­dents here, and our stu­dents in Korea, could maybe once a quar­ter have a Skype ses­sion, or telep­res­ence, or some sort of en­gage­ment with each other?” Hill sug­gested.

STAFF PHOTO BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

Charles County Public Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Kim­berly Hill ad­dresses a group of South Korean ed­u­ca­tors re­gard­ing com­puter science ini­tia­tives within the school sys­tem.

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