Computer Science Teachers Association Names RSU 25 Educator with 2022 Teaching Excellence New England Award

The Maine chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) announced Allison Braley as the winner of the 2022 CSTA Teaching Excellence New England Award for her outstanding contribution to computer science education. The Computer Science Teaching Excellence Awards are designed to recognize outstanding teaching by K–12 computer science teachers. Winners excel in inspiring students to explore the computer science field, engaging students in learning rigorous standards-aligned computer science content, and broadening the participation of underrepresented students in computing.

Allison is a computer science teacher at Bucksport Middle School and the District Technology Coach for RSU 25. She has been instrumental in developing engaging programming to teach her students computer science concepts, like programming languages and computational thinking. Last year, she was awarded a grant to expand the computer science program at the high school level.

In addition to teaching, Allison serves as the secretary of the Maine chapter of CSTA. She also collaborated with other Maine teachers to create computer science modules for the MOOSE project, and is a regular contributor to other statewide K-12 computer science initiatives.

Allison’s colleagues describe her as follows:

“Allison is always positive. She advocates for kids. Allison wants her students to have every opportunity that they deserve regarding their education. The Maine Computer Science Teachers Association is incredibly fortunate to having such an amazing teacher as one of our members.”

“Allison is enthusiastic about teaching computer science to her students. She is always seeking out new learning opportunities to bring back to her students and fellow teachers. As a fellow educator, Allison has inspired me to learn more about computer science.”

Congratulations Allison Braley for all your work in computer science education!

Computer Science Professional Development Grant Application

Are you interested in computer science professional development opportunities for your school? Maine’s 130th legislature, through a bill sponsored by Senator Pouliot, created a pilot grant program to provide funding for high-quality, teacher-developed or teacher-led professional development for PK-12 computer science pedagogy and content. 

Priority will be given to applicants that: 

  • do not currently offer computer science learning opportunities; 
  • serve socioeconomically disadvantaged school districts; 
  • prioritize student populations traditionally underrepresented in computer science; 
  • demonstrate a commitment to pursuing high-quality educator professional development that emphasizes integration of computer science into other course work and curricula or establishes or expands access to courses that offer college credit and other certificates of value, or both; and 
  • collaborate or partner with other entities, including but not limited to other local education agencies, the business community, nonprofit organizations and private entities. 

The application window opens Thursday September 1, 2022. Applications will be reviewed in the order in which they are received.  

There is no limit to the grant amount awarded per applicant; however, funds will be dispersed equitably across all applications based on county and throughout PK-12. 

Have questions? Want to learn more? Interested in applying? Check out our website to learn more and submit an application. 

Need assistance applying? Contact the Computer Science Specialist, Emma-Marie Banks, emma-marie.banks@maine.gov 

An Opportunity for First-year Educators: One-year Free Membership to ACTEM

The Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine recently launched a membership opportunity  for first year educators.  ACTEM is a non-profit which supports Maine education professionals by providing professional development, bulk purchasing for software and technology, and professional learning networks/  At the recent annual summer board retreat, a new ACTEM membership level was discussed and created for first-year educators (teachers & administrators).  The new First Year Educator level will be offered at no cost and will include all of the standard individual member benefits except for the opportunity to apply for Professional Development reimbursement.

The ACTEM board hopes that by offering this one-year FREE membership for our new educators, we will encourage them to…

  • See the benefits of belonging to a professional organization
  • Take advantage of the other ACTEM individual member benefits
  • PZpAttend ACTEM conference to build a network of support (at discounted member rate)
  • Continue with this membership in future years

The First Year Educator membership includes these benefits:

  • ACTEM’s quarterly newsletter –The Connected Educator
  • Lunch at the quarterly business meeting at regional sites
  • Discounted registration fee on the ACTEM fall conference
  • Access to ACTEM’s
  • OverDrive eBook and audio book PD library
  • Discounts on software & other items available through our purchasing consortium (as permitted by the vendor).

Check out the What is ACTEM tri-fold brochure that explains more about ACTEM along with details of benefits for the different member levels.  Please forward this information along to all first-year educators in your district.

 

Media Release: Computer Science Education Showcase Highlights Maine’s Interdisciplinary, Project-Based Approach to Computer Science

Students and educators from across Maine showed off their computer science skills at the Maine Department of Education’s Computer Science Education Showcase at the Roux Institute. The showcase highlighted innovative computer science education programs in schools across Maine, with hands on, interactive exhibits featuring robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), 3D design and printing, coding, augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), data science, cybersecurity, and more.

Maine has long been a leader in integrating technology and learning, and that holds true with computer science education. Instead of computer science being a separate course only some students take or an “add on”, Maine provides the support and resources to encourage all schools to provide interdisciplinary, project-based computer science learning experiences that incorporate computational and critical thinking, innovation and design processes, and applied learning at all grade levels and across all subject areas.

The Computer Science Education Showcase illustrated the state’s approach, with VR headsets transporting users to Maine State Parks which a student developed over the course of last summer, 3D printing demonstrations, a full-size arcade game developed by students, 6th graders demonstrating their block coding skills, a wide array of apps and websites around difference content areas created by students, and a robotics room with world champion level robotics teams. All Pre-K through 12 grade levels were represented, with educators highlighting how they were incorporating computer science education at younger grade levels, including having 5th grade students partner with kindergarten students to teach them basic coding skills and a new mobile makerspace that will rotate between elementary schools offering computer science education for Pre-K through fifth grade students.

Maine Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin, University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy, 2022 Presidential Scholar Sirohi Kumar, Bethel second grade teacher Alice Lee, Jackson Labs Vice President for Education Charlie Wray, and the Roux Institute’s Chief Administrative Officer Chris Mallett participated in a panel discussion on how Maine is paving the way for students and teachers to be successful in the world of computer science. The discussion focused on reaching more students, making computer science more accessible to all, taking an interdisciplinary approach to computer science education, and how the critical and computational thinking, collaboration, and creative design skills developed through computer science education are critical to success in nearly every career and 21st century life.

“Computer science is about approaching a problem with optimism, logic, critical thinking, design thinking, creativity and vision. We need to make computer science accessible for every educator and every student and continue this tradition that we’ve started in Maine of interdisciplinary, project-based computer science education across all grades that is really contextualized in a way that is meaningful for kids,” said Education Commissioner Pender Makin.

“There is this perception of computer science that it’s for an elite group, and in reality that’s not the case–it can be used for everything including art, science, and music. I think computer science education should be framed for everyone at a very young age that computer science can solve whatever problem or scenario you have regardless of what field it is,” said Sirohi Kumar a 2022 Presidential Scholar from Mount Desert Island.

“The more we can engage with computer science at the Pre-K through 12 level, the more ready everyone is for whatever comes afterward. These students here tonight are getting a head start with these skills. It’s going to matter for your futures,” said University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy.

“Building those skills of computer science at the youngest level—problem solving, debugging, innovating, and creativity. These basic skills are really what our young learners need to take off academically,” said second grade teacher Alice Lee from Bethel.

“We now live in a world that is immersed in big data and the amount of data being generated is so tremendous that this next generation has this great opportunity to enter so many career fields where computer science has a touchpoint. It’s not just being a software engineer or computer scientist, but all of us can learn and solve problems with big data and the amount of careers that can come out of good computer science education is endless,” said Jackson Labs Vice President for Education Charlie Wray.

“This concept of computer science for everyone is important. These competencies and literacies are no longer siloed; they work across the spectrum. The logic and reasoning that comes from computer science paired with the creativity of a liberal arts education, it’s the intersection of these skills that all of us have the potential to develop that is going to propel the Maine economy and the Maine workforce of the future,” said the Roux Institute’s Chief Administrative Officer Chris Mallett.

The Maine Department of Education and the Mills administration continue to support and bolster computer science education in Maine:

  • The DOE works continually with educators, business leaders, and others to update and adapt Maine’s statewide computer science education plan and the Department’s work is guided by seven key principles;
  • Governor Mills signed onto Governor Hutchison’s computer science compact;
  • The DOE hired a computer science specialist to work with schools and has committed additional resources to support educators and schools in integrating authentic, project-based Pre-K through 12 computer science education;
  • Governor Mills signed a bill providing $50,000 in professional learning support for educators on computer science, with an emphasis on educators in rural areas and serving marginalized communities, and another $50,000 will be awarded this coming school year;
  • Next month’s Educator Summit will feature several professional learning opportunities for educators on computer science education;
  • The DOE developed its first Pre-K through 12 online computer science learning progression last year focused on computational thinking and a new progression will soon be launched; and
  • The DOE is doubling the number of Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) Ambassadors that work in schools to support the integration of technology and learning, including computer science education.

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Registration Open for Computer Science Education Showcase Event at Roux Institute on July 13th

The Maine Department of Education (DOE), in partnership with the Roux Institute, is hosting a Computer Science Education Showcase event to celebrate the great things happening across the state in computer science education! The showcase will highlight educators, students, community organizations, and other partners who are teaching, learning, and expanding access to and participation in computer science education. New to computer science? Not sure what computer science is? Looking to learn more about ways that computer science is taught and learned across the state? This is the event for you! Come and learn about how Maine is paving the way for students and teachers to be successful in the world of computer science. 

Join us July 13th, 5pm-6:30pm at the Roux Institute in Portland Maine. Click here to register to attend! 

The event is free and highlights include interactive exhibits by educators from schools from across Maine, a special guest speaker and a panel discussion about computer science!

If you have questions or would like to learn more about the Computer Science Showcase, please reach out to the Maine DOE Computer Science Specialist, Emma-Marie Banks at emma-marie.banks@maine.gov .