Classroom Highlight: Comprehensive Computer Science at Lyman Moore Middle School

Submitted by AJ Rog and Sean Wasson, Computer Science Educators at Lyman Moore Middle School in Portland, Maine.

Lyman Moore Middle School is in the Portland Public School District. It is home to 480 students in grades 6 through 8. Over the last 20+ years Portland has become a very diverse city with an influx of refugees and asylum seekers from around the world. Thanks to this welcome change to our city, our school is currently home to students from 28 different countries with at least 15 different home languages being spoken.

Sean Wasson and I (AJ Rog) feel privileged to be the two computer science teachers at Lyman Moore. We are able to reach approximately 85% of our students. Our classes run on an alternating day schedule, allowing their semester of content to stretch across the entire year. This schedule engages our students in two semesters of computer science content throughout their 6th and 7th grade experiences. During their time in the CS program they are given access to coding, problem solving skills and design thinking. Our students leave middle school with a high level of understanding of JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and circuit boards.

When our students enter 8th grade they are given some choice in the elective classes  hey take. Sean and I offer multiple choices over the 3 trimesters ranging from movie making,  TEAM Windmill Challenge, Web Design, Puzzles and Cyber Security, Video Game Design,  nd Circuit Boards. These classes have allowed our students who want to go further in the STEAM fields an opportunity to do so.

Our ultimate goal is to have 100% of our middle school students take CS and to collaborate closely with the three city high schools in order to recommend high school CS placement and encourage students to continue their CS journey. We also see CS curriculum as a path toward equity and engagement. Because of the demographics of our school we are positioned to encourage those students who have historically been  underrepresented in Computer Science (e.g. girls and students of color) to focus on, build skills in and find inspiration in CS. In addition we provide opportunities for students to  engage in skills and knowledge that will serve them beyond the classroom. In our ever digitizing world, our students will leave middle school equipped to creatively tackle problems using the CS lens.