Teacher testamonial video created by C-STEM partner teachers.
“My experience with C-STEM has been far more rewarding than I expected. My principal signed me up for a 2 week training last summer with Professor Cheng at UCD Davis. I was very tentative to attend because I had no background in computer science and did not see how it could be helpful to my middle school students. I was very wrong. I attended the 2 week training and joined for the fellowship to help develop the curriculum. I taught programming as an elective using the C-STEM curriculum this year and was thrilled to see how it positively affected such a wide range of my students. My low students were so motivated by learning how to operate the robots that they improved their understanding of difficult math concepts like rates, proportions, and writing and solving equations. My higher students were excited by the new challenge and all the different possibilities that they devoted extra time to the material outside of school and are now looking up what computer science classes they can take at the High School. This has been a very rewarding experience for my students and I can’t wait to teach it again next year.”
The feedback from students, teachers, and principals for our programs are extremely positive. Below are some of their comments.
"I would like to thank you for including my class and me in your pilot program. I really enjoy learning about C++ programming using the C/C++ interpreter Ch that you developed, and teaching it for the first time to my students.
As you know this is my first year teaching full time as a computer teacher and teaching C++ programming. I presently work at an Alternative High School in Woodland, California with students who are credit deficient. I have very minimal computer programming experience. Your one and a half hour tutorial on C/C++ was my only former introduction to computer programming. Last year, I taught my students XHTML. This year I challenged myself and my students to learn more about computer programming and computer-aided problem solving. The computer software, teaching materials, and resources that you put together have made it very easy to teach.
Additionally, I would like to thank you for taking into consideration of different changes to your program and documentation that my students have suggested. Every time that we have made suggestions, you and your team have adjusted the program to make it better. The interface to the program is very user friendly and the program is easy to use.
One thing that my students are very excited about is using C/C++ programs to control the Lego Mindstorms robots that we purchased with a mini grant that I wrote to support our joint project. As I mentioned to you before, half of my students are girls and bilingual. Next month, my students and I look forward to sharing our new skills with one of our local elementary schools. Thirteen of my students will be going over to their school once a week for 10 weeks to teach a group of twenty-four 5th and 6th graders how to use C/C++ programs to control the Lego Mindstorms robots that we got.
I have wanted to learn computer programming for many years and now I have been given this opportunity to not only learn it, but also teach it to students. Once again, I would like to thank you for this wonderful experience!"
--- Krista Purdom, Technology Teacher at the Einstein Education Center High School Woodland, California
"As a veteran teacher, I have taught Computer Programming and other Computer Science courses since 1987. My experience ranges from elementary school through to work with in-service teachers and adult education, but the majority of my career has been teaching High School and Junior High Computer Science. I have taught using BASIC, Pascal, Logo, and some less well-known programming languages. This is my ninth year teaching at Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior High School in Davis, a public school where we serve 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students.
For the last few years I have wanted to update our curriculum at Holmes to include the C or C++ programming language. I have been aware that this language is dominant in high school advanced placement courses, alongside Java. C is also widely taught at colleges and universities. Unfortunately, due to extremely limited public school budgets, funding has not been available for the purchase of software, nor to provide me with additional training to learn C.
During the Spring of 2009, Dr. Harry Cheng and his colleagues at the University of California at Davis approached me with an idea for a collaborative project between UC Davis and local public schools to bring C programming instruction to a larger number of secondary students in our area. Dr. Cheng, his colleagues, and I have worked together over the last 9 months. This semester I have begun to teach C for the first time, to 8th and 9th grade students in my one-semester course, Computer Programming with Robotics. It has been very well received by the students.
We are using Ch with an integrated development environment ChIDE, which was originally developed by Dr. Cheng. Over the course of several collaborative meetings, I have met with Professor Cheng and his colleagues. We have worked with Ms. Krista Purdom and Mr. Dubarrie Fagout, who are high school teachers in two other towns in Yolo County; Woodland and West Sacramento.
I have greatly enjoyed working with this team. As a collaborative group we have begun to test and evaluate a variety of approaches to teaching C programming to 8th through 12th grade students. The UC Davis faculty have demonstrated a great willingness to work with K-12 teachers as equals in this project, empowering us to influence their own work. For example, our comments and feedback have lead to significant improvements to Ch. In addition, we have provided suggestions for the improvement of a draft textbook, prepared by Dr. Cheng, for use with secondary students.
Our school administrators fully support our collaborative project and I am interested in continuing to work with the team. I plan to teach C to my 8th and 9th grade students in each of the next several school years, using Ch and ChIDE. I am preparing a formal evaluation of my experiences teaching C this semester, including a summary of our pre- and post-instruction surveys. It is expected that these evaluation surveys from my students will assist our team as we further develop teaching techniques.
As an experienced teacher of computer programming to high school and middle school aged students, I appreciate several features that have been included in the ChIDE which support student learning. These include detailed error messages with error location, color coding of text in the editor to highlight the various program elements, and numerous user options for the editing environment such as optional line numbers, optional margins, and indenting guides.
In recent years, many middle schools have stopped teaching computer programming, and we have also seen a national decline in high school computer science enrollments. As a member of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) and Computer Using Educators (CUE) I am very familiar with these problems. It is my hope that our cooperative project with UC Davis will help lead to a renaissance in computing instruction in California."
--- Jennifer K. Sommer, Computer Science Teacher at O. W. Holmes Junior High School, Davis, California
This pilot program has been extremely beneficial to me. Consequently, I am now determined to continue using what I have been learning about teaching the C++ programming language in my robotics classes in the future.
--- Dubarrie Fagout, Technology Teacher, River City High School, West Sacramento, California
"I used the C-STEM Algebra curriculum last year. The material provided students with real-world skills proving math to be both applicable and enjoyable. Standards-aligned and user-friendly computing activities are an exceptional addition to my Algebra I curriculum because it helps make abstract ideas concrete and allow students to apply mathematical concepts to the real world."
--- Francesca DeFazio, Math Teacher and MA, Westmore Oaks Elementary School
"The C-STEM curriculum allows students to practice their math skills outside of the traditional classroom learning while getting a unique opportunity to develop skills that can directly lead to job possibilities in the future. This is an excellent combination of technology, problem solving, and a chance to strengthen logical thinking. I will definitely be integrating this into my classroom in the coming year."
--- Megan Schoellhamer, Math Teacher, Bridgeway Island Elementary School
"The C-STEM Pre-Algebra and Algebra curricula can benefit kids by providing them with an engaging and accessible way to learn math concepts that can be very challenging for some students. This is a way for students to learn that makes abstract concepts more real."
-- Spencer Krautkraemer, Math Teacher, Esparto K-8 School
"The C-STEM Algebra curriculum extends my students math knowledge and engages them in real world application of the standards I am teaching. It truly is a math curriculum that utilizes technology rather than the other way around. The computing curriculum allows my students to delve even farther into programming as they learn project-oriented techniques that are commonly used in industry. After exposure to this curriculum my students leave excited about what they have learned, how they can apply it and their own potential for a STEM related career."
-- Heidi Espindola, Math Teacher and Math Dept Chair, California Aerospace Academy, Gateway Community Charters, Twin Rivers Unified School District
"This is a great way to engage kids in math- especially those students who struggle to see how math relates to the real world. When we talk about giving kids '21st century skills' and 'closing the achievement gap', the C-STEM curricula can really make a difference for students and teachers."
-- Brian Donnelly Ed.D., STEM Program Coordinator and Industrial Technology Teacher, Harper Junior High School
"The C-STEM Pre-Algebra and Algebra curricula can benefit kids by giving students the opportunity to increase their logical reasoning skills. This curriculum is accessible to all students and can be easily adapted/integrated into any existing algebra program."
-- Karl Ronning, Math Teacher, Davis Senior High School
"Unlocking a well hidden truth: Math can be a wonderfully creative and useful tool, not only in school but in your everyday life. Using Ch as a medium allows students to be the artists and algebra to be the paintbrush."
-- Chris Schlesselman, Lead CTE Teacher, Technology & Engineering Design Academy, Hiram W Johnson High School
"The C-STEM Pre-Algebra and Algebra curricula can benefit kids by making mathematics an exciting, interactive, tangible thing. Not only will this content help students in their math classes, it will initiate them into a fraternity of a very few, those that can program computers! These are marketable skills that can help pay college bills and pave their way to rewarding occupations. I am very proud to have been a part of this program because I know it will help kids."
-- Joseph Stymeist, Engineering Teacher, School of Engineering and Sciences
"The C-STEM curriculum will benefit students by providing them with the necessary critical thinking and problem solving skills that the job market requires. I feel that in our current curriculum ideas and facts are stressed more than strategies and analytic skills. In my opinion, by stressing the strategies and skills needed to solve problems, rather than focusing on all the individual problems themselves, our students will be fully equipped to tackle any obstacle. The C-STEM curriculum will provide such skills."
-- Ryan Mangan, Engineering Teacher, School of Engineering and Sciences