Check Your Rank

  • Fighting Your Fears

    Posted by Bhavini Patel on 1/14/2019

         I have been in education for 13 years and whether I was teaching first grade or fifth grade, the thing that remained constant was to ensure learning remained relevant and engaging for my students. I always tried my best to create a classroom culture that built perseverance and encouraged risk-taking for my students. As a classroom teacher, I took risks and tried out many different strategies and lesson designs. Although I was willing to take risks, one regret I have is not diving into the area of computer science. I had a major fear of the unknown in this content area. I didn’t feel confident with my own skill set when it came to coding. It was ironic that I expected my students to be risk takers and become persistent learners but in all honesty, I wasn’t displaying this behavior myself. Now that I have had the opportunity to learn more about computer science as Technology TOSA, I better understand the importance of exposing students to computer science early and often. I had to fight my own fears to benefit students. Unfortunately, this realization came after I left the classroom so the best I can do now is to encourage and support teachers in teaching coding to their students.

         This year, I took the risk that I missed out in my own classroom by co-teaching an after school coding club for a few weeks at Rancho Mirage Elementary. Eduardo and I piloted our coding program called CakeWalk with grades 3-5 students from the ASES Program at Rancho Elementary. We wanted to create an enrichment class that focused on computer science. Students participated in the Dance Party in, completed an hour of code, then we progressed to  using LittleBits. They used these electronic building blocks for creating inventions such as the Breezy Buddy and and Art Spinner. Lastly, we ended with STEM & Stories, where we read a story to the students and they had to work as a team to plan and build an invention that will solve the problem in the story. This experience was encouraging because it helped develop a newfound passion for coding.

         Being a risk-taker not only helped me grow as an educator but also benefited students I worked with. I think it's important for teachers to put themselves out there. If we want our students to take risks then it's important we model this behavior ourselves. Starting this pilot coding program taught me how students feel when they take risks. Taking risks can feel uncomfotable and stressful but when you preserve and succeed, you feel imense proudness. This is feeling I would want all my students to feel. By not taking risks in the classroom, teachers could be denying opportunities for students due to their insecurities. I am very grateful to the coding club experience as it helped me grow in my own skill set and the students were exposed to some concepts of computer science which they may not have otherwise experienced if I hadn't fought my fear.

         I feel like I’m ready to take this show on the road. Even though I am still insecure in my abilities to teach coding but I am ready to face my fear and take risks with other teachers and students when it comes to coding. I am planning to travel to different school sites and offer enrichment sessions that focus on coding at other elementary sites. Computer science is so valuable that even if teachers don’t have time to incorporate into their instructional day, I want to be able to support by teaching these classes myself. Fighting your fears in the classroom can lead to many new discoveries that will benefit both teachers and students.

    group text littleBits



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  • The Effects of Social Media on Self-Esteem

    Posted by Kathy Surdin on 12/3/2018

    Social Media


         Social media is a wonderful vehicle for learning, sharing and exchanging ideas.  But is it also a means to attain validation, attention, popularity, and self-promotion?  Students can be impressionable and easily influenced by their peers.  Those who are not emotionally grounded are especially vulnerable to external influences.

         People generally "like" items without much examination or thought.  This is in deep contrast to the recipients of "likes" who rely on the feedback for instant gratification and validation.  Some students are likely to become obsessed with receiving "likes" for a momentary feeling of euphoria.

         Seeking approval and popularity have always been valued and envied, but through social media, it is much more prevalent as an end to itself.  Traditionally, affirmation resulted from an accomplishment, skill, or expertise in a particular field, not merely from a casual, personal photo.  But now, the goal is to be popular and seek attention.  Moreover, some people attempt dangerous daredevil stunts for shock value and attention seeking purposes, while others are self-referential, displaying how fulfilled and perfect their lives are to the public, whether it is true or not.  Students compare the images they see online to their own lives and often feel inadequate, depressed and lonely.  What constitutes a fulfilled life?  Are we attempting to emulate the envied lives of celebrities?

         We all want young adults to be successful and healthy.  As educators, we can encourage students to develop confidence and self-esteem from within, rather than relying on external measures.  Self-acceptance and realistic perceptions of oneself must be reinforced, nurtured and valued.  The following are resources to help students maintain positive and healthy experiences with social media.


         Social Media and Self-Doubt - What we can do to help students build a safe and reasonable relationship with social media.

    • Take social media seriously
      • Make sure to really listen and be careful not to dismiss or minimize students' experiences.
    • Encourage students to think outside the (crop) box
      • Ask what has been cropped or edited out of their peers' "perfect" photos and why.
      • Are their friends really the people they appear to be online?
      • What's the purpose of posting a photo?
      • What is it about getting "likes" that feels good?
      • Does looking at social media affect your mood?
    • Model a healthy response to failure
      • Let students know that failure is part of how we learn to succeed.
      • It's nothing to be ashamed of and encourage them to accept it with grace and try again.
    • Praise (and show) effort
      • Praise students' efforts no matter the outcome.
      • Model your own efforts, especially those that don't end in success.
    • Go on a "social holiday"
      • If you ask your students to unplug, model it as well.
    • Trust people, not pictures
      • Don't rely on social media to know how your students are really doing.
      • Encourage students to talk about their feelings and praise them for reaching out to you.


    Social Media's Impact on Self-Esteem




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  • Welcome to CS Week 2018!

    Posted by Ursula Fabiano on 11/27/2018 10:00:00 AM

    Computer Science week is almost in full swing for its 9th year!

    It runs from December 3rd-9th. For those of you who may not know, we celebrate CS Week at this time in honor of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper who was a computing pioneer (December 9, 1906 was her birthday!).


    What does this all mean for teachers?
    It’s a time to celebrate and get your students involved with computer science! Don’t worry! It sounds more intimidating than it really is and I’d be glad to walk you through the process!


    What is computer science and why should we teach it?
    Computer science is everywhere and a part of almost everything we do! From browsing the web, to posting on Facebook, to ordering from our favorite websites, and playing Fortnite. But, the creator of can probably answer these questions better than me! Here is his speech from a Tedx event.


    To summarize what Hadi had to say:
    Computer science is more than just coding. We need to think about the future of our society and teaching our students computer science better prepares them for their future. We teach students about math, but not all of them become mathematicians, we teach them about biology, but not all of them become biologists. They learn these things to become well rounded.  


    Only 35% of schools in the US are teaching computer science and there are currently about 500,000 job openings in this field (with that number steadily rising every year)(“What’s Wrong With This Picture”, 2018). And don’t even get me started on the lack of women in computer science (girls only represent 18% of undergraduate students in computer science as opposed to the 40% that are in the other sciences) (“Girls in IT”, 2018). Why then, would we not teach them about the very thing that is so prevalent in our lives and can open up opportunities for their future?


    Are you convinced?

    Ready to dive in head first?


    Let’s get started with some basics!


    For Computer Science Week, all we ask is that you spend at least an hour with your students doing something related to coding (even though we know there is more to computer science than just coding!). has several great resources to get started.


    Let’s walk through the process!


    What to do to prepare:

    • Sign up to host an hour of code at
    • Preview the videos and tutorials to see which lessons would be best for your students. Get the link that you will share with the students.
    • If you don’t have access to devices, there are also lessons that you can use. “Unplugged Lessons” don’t require a device and have minimal prep work required.


    What to do during:

    • Start by showing students this video. and check out some of the other cool videos that has on their YouTube channel (subscribe!).
    • Give students some information about computer science. Here are 2 great information sheets: 
      What is CS?
      CS Intro
    • Share the link to the lesson/tutorial (Google Classroom can help!)
    • Let students work in pairs to solve coding errors.
    • Let students work at their own pace for an hour.
    • Supervise and help students as necessary, but have the students ask 3 other classmates for help before they come to you
    • If a student finishes early, they can go to another lesson/tutorial or help other classmates
    • When students finish they will receive a completion certificate that you can print out if desired. You can always pre-print these and write in student names.


    Computer Science Week is only one week out of the whole year and we don’t need to wait till next year to teach more computer science. There is a lot we can keep doing to keep the party going!



    When you give students the opportunity to code you are not only increasing their problem solving and critical thinking skills but you are also preparing them for a successful future. So, join the party and get your students involved with CS!





    Girls in IT: The Facts. (2018). National Center for Women & Information Technology. Retrieved 27 November 2018, from

    What's wrong with this picture?. (2018). CSEd Week. Retrieved 27 November 2018, from

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