Shell Funds “Coding in the Classroom” Initiative in Southern Tioga School District

Thanks to a generous grant from Shell Appalachia, select classrooms across the Southern Tioga School District will have a new addition this spring. The “Coding in the Classroom” initiative will bring iRobot Root Robots™ and Apple iPads™ to students from K-12 in their general education courses. The district-wide enrichment coach, Rachel Smith, will be collaborating with teachers to develop robot coding activities that integrate directly into existing lesson plans. According to Smith, “With an increased need for graduates to have strong computational thinking skills, it is imperative that we teach computer science at an earlier age and integrate these skills across our regular education classrooms. Computer science is no longer a subject area but rather a skill that is necessary in a broad range of career paths.”

Integrating computer science into general content courses, such as ELA, math, science, and social studies, not only better prepares students for the future workplace but it also increases equitable access to these skills. Smith explains, “Computer science has traditionally been offered as an elective high school course. Statistics show that elective computer science courses tend to be male student dominated, therefore, when we teach computer science skills in core course classrooms we are able to reach more female students.”

This initiative is just one of the many ways that Southern Tioga School District is working to expand its computer science and STEM programming. Library media specialist and STEM teacher, Sarah Murray, is working with first grade teacher, Lindsey Kutz, on creating primary level content integrated coding lessons using miniature robots. At the district’s two high schools, the library media specialists have assembled student STEAM Teams and Tech Squads that work to support various STEM and technology related initiatives throughout the year. The district has also partnered with BLaST IU17 to offer instructional technology professional development at inservice events this school year.

Photo: Left- Deb Sawyer and Amanda Peterson of Shell Appalachia, Right – Rachel Smith and Will Schlosser of Southern Tioga School District.