Elementary School Teacher, Cynthia Mann Elementary Boise, ID
Tell us about yourself
I am an elementary educator with a passion for STEM. I am also a current National Museum of African American History and Culture STEM Master Teacher fellow and served as a 2018-2019 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the Library of Congress creating STEM and Makerspace activities with Primary Sources. My teaching career began in 2004, and since that time, I have earned my masters and doctorate in Educational Technology. I enjoy learning and presenting at various conferences, teacher workshops, and webinars and have done so since 2013. I was recognized as a 2020 ITEEA Teacher Excellence Award, 2014 and 2018 State Finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and received the 2016 K-6 Industry’s Excellent Educators Dedicated to STEM award.
Why did you go into teaching?
I always wanted to go into teaching but tried other careers before pursuing education. My children's educators had a big impact on me and how I teach.
Why is it important to teach your students computer science and maker education?
Computer science and making provide opportunities for students to excel in real world skills beyond a worksheet. Students who may struggle with traditional school work can shine and take on roles that they may not be able to with traditional paper and pencil instruction.
How do you integrate computer science and making into your classroom?
Even though I moved positions to teach 1st and 2nd grade students, I am still able to work with them on text-based coding both virtually and in-person. The Pathfinders Summer Institute provided me with the knowledge and tools to feel comfortable teaching coding and robotics virtually and in-person. I started teaching my students to code when we are all virtual. Now that we are back in our classroom part-time, they are able to code and challenge themselves with the robots. With the stress of what students have missed between last spring and virtual instruction, many teachers are feeling pressured to take out the engaging content areas like science. I think this is an important time to continue offering these opportunities to our students.
This year’s theme for CS Ed Week is #CSforSocialJustice. What does that theme mean to you?
Accessibility is critical for providing access and opportunities for all students to explore computer science and find their interests and passions, as well as develop real-world career skills. Computer science creates new ways for students to find success in the classroom and joy for learning. All students deserve and need to have the opportunity to learn about computer science and see what it holds for them. In addition to learning what computer science offers students, students can learn about ways computer science can create positive impacts from local to global communities by solving problems. Computer science empowers students to learn new skills that can help them solve real-world problems.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I would love to thank colleagues, administrators, and organizations that support educator professional development. Professional development can be so much more powerful when completed with colleagues that continue to motivate each other. It is also so much easier to participate in professional development and implement lessons learned with the support of administrators at the school and district level. The variety of computer science professional development has been available due to organizations that support and encourage educators to learn and integrate computer science in their classrooms through accessible training and materials to use with our students. A network of colleagues, administrators, and organizations make computer science more accessible to students.