The setup and management of Google CS First assumes you'll be hosting a computer science (CS) club, either as a teacher, a volunteer, or a CS evangelist (or, to use Google's terminology, a Host, a Guru, or an Advocate). These tools are ideal for an after-school program, an elective class, or even an extracurricular club not attached to a school. But the materials are appropriate for use in any setting where you'd like to get some CS experience, including middle school art, English, music, and more. Especially if your school can't support a full-on programming experience for students, Google CS First can slot into existing curricula nicely.
Either way, be sure you go through the whole experience yourself before giving it to students so you know what to expect and what moments are good for intervention. That way, you can largely let students run the experience themselves. And though there aren't tons of places built into the curriculum for playing, remixing, and tinkering, you can build in that time yourself.Continue reading Show less
Google CS First is an online platform for creating, managing, and teaching a middle school computer science (CS) program. There are currently 72 programming explorations and lessons across nine domains (such as arts, gaming, sports, storytelling, and social media). Each lesson is ready to go out of the box and includes a minute-by-minute teacher script, student instructions, example projects, materials (with solution guides), and more. The site also features comprehensive help guides for everything from setting up and maintaining a club to tips for classroom management and discipline issues.
Coding is done largely through MIT's excellent Scratch platform, which means there's plenty of support out there for kids who need a bit of help, as well as meaningful pathways to more advanced coding experiences beyond middle school.
The standard model of most Google CS First lessons is for kids to watch videos, create something according to the video's examples, and repeat until they've completed a functioning project. After filling out a nicely framed reflection, they can then customize their projects before taking part in a classwide project showcase. Keep in mind that it's a lot of work to get done in a short amount of time, and reflection and discussion phases may seem a bit rushed. Plus, there's a lot of seat time dedicated to just watching and remembering.
But, at the end of it all, kids still have plenty of chances to create, collaborate, hack one another's projects, remix works, and learn by tinkering. This is all pretty phenomenal, especially for a domain with such a specialized lexicon and logical patterns as computer science. Think of it as a nice transition between traditional sit-and-learn and full-on learning-by-doing.
Key Standards Supported
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.