Building a CTE Program with Early Lessons in Coding for Students
Humble ISD launched an initiative to help more students realize how enthralling computer science can be.
We started by broadening our study options, creating 170 different CTE courses ranging from cosmetology and cybersecurity to automotive and robotics. We believe that if we offer a wide array of opportunities, it’s more likely that students will elect to embark on a learning pathway that allows them to develop a deep understanding of an area of CTE.
The next step was to introduce this in the early years.
In most elementary grades, coding lessons start with game development, an ideal way to introduce students to computer science. Scratch, a block-based programming platform, gives young students an easy, visual entry into developing games. However, we noticed that the block-based programming model doesn’t develop with students as they progress through the elementary and early middle school years, leading many to drop out of coding.
Keeping Students in CTE Through High School
As they progress through middle school, Humble ISD students slowly transition from block- to text-based programming. This scaffolds the learning, helping students appreciate the real-world applications of coding. It also ensures a basic understanding of computer science fundamentals by the time they reach high school.
Overcoming Barriers to Teaching Computer Science in K–12 Classes
Another factor restricting the number of students electing CTE was that too few teachers were confident enough to teach it, especially without a defined curriculum.
To change this, we started using the GAME:IT curriculum, which allows teachers and students to dive in and start creating games aligned to the curriculum.
“I hadn’t done programming since I graduated in 2005, so I was worried that I’d be learning it at the same time as the kids,” says Sydnie Grizzaffi, an educator at Atascocita Middle School. “However, we all worked on it together and learned a lot more. Even teachers who are completely new to programming pick it up within a couple of weeks.”