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Instructional Materials

This section provides recommended Computer Science programs and additional instructional material a teacher may use for Computer Science instruction.

NOTE: Please work with your IT department to ensure the applications are approved for your environment and any external web sites are unblocked (e.g. App Inventor is a web based application which requires a user to create a gmail account to store their projects).

CS Exploration Courses

There are two main introductory computer science courses designed for middle and early high school students.

The Exploring Computer Science (ECS) curriculum consists of 6 units which provides an introduction to the world of computer science and problem solving suitable for all students.   The curriculum package comes with daily instructional lesson plans for teachers, plus supplemental extension resources.  Some schools offer a reduced one semester version using a subset of the units (we recommend units 1, 2, and 4), while others offer the full two semester program.

CS Discoveries is an introductory course from Code.org that empowers students to engage with Computer Science as a medium for creativity, communication, problem solving, and fun.  This course is recommended for grades 6-10.

CS Principles

Several Computer Science Principles courses have been developed that incorporate the College Board’s AP Computer Science Principles Curriculum Framework. To further evaluate the options look explore the following: Available CS Courses.

  • The Boise State CS 501 course for secondary teachers utilizes much of the Mobile CSP material.
    • The Mobile CSP Professional Development program aims to prepare teachers to teach the College-Board endorsed Mobile CSP Advanced Placement course. The PD is designed to be accessible to teachers new to computer science as well as experienced CS teachers.
    • The Mobile CSP community has workshops available for secondary teachers to learn the course curriculum refer to their site for Professional Development for High School Teachers.
  • Code.org AP CSP 5-day workshops are offered during the summer to prepare teachers to instruct the AP Computer Science Principles course beginning the fall after the teacher completes the professional development training.
    • Idaho Digital Learning provides professional development opportunities to any and all educators in the State of Idaho.
    • If you have questions about the Code.org Idaho professional development training, contact Idaho Digital Learning at 208-342-0207 or email idla@IdahoDigitalLearning.org.

Scratch

Scratch is a web based programming language and an online community where students program and share interactive media such as stories, games, and animation. As students create with Scratch, they learn to think creatively, work collaboratively, and reason systematically.

App Inventor 2

The Mobile Computer Science Principles course is supported by the Mobile Computer Science Principles Project (Mobile CSP).  The course is funded by the National Science Foundation to provide a broad and rigorous introduction to computer science based on App Inventor, a mobile programming language for Android devices. The course is based on the College Board’s emerging Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles curriculum framework for introductory computer science.

App Inventor is a great site for learning how to program mobile android apps. The site provides on-line book and video lessons that step you through the creation of successively more complex apps.

Processing

Processing is a great entry-level text based programming language, development environment, and online community. Processing was initially created in 2001 as a software sketchbook to teach computer programming fundamentals in a visual context.

Processing is a dialect of the “Java” programming language: the syntax is similar, but adds custom graphic and interactive features which allows a student to write interesting programs and see visual results right from the beginning.

A great feature about Processing is the ability to expand its capabilities via libraries.  For example, one library provides extensions that interact with the Finch Robot designed for Computer Science education.

Additional CS Materials

Computer Science is more than programming tools or languages, it is also about new methodologies and developing 21st century skills. Thus consider utilizing some of the following material in your class.  The”unplugged” materials do not require a computer.