We love hearing about teachers' experiences with our products, especially when they help bring computer science knowledge to their classrooms.
Keesha Jennings, of Calcasieu Parish School Board, is one such inspiring teacher who turned to pi-top upon realizing a lack of computer science and technology lessons in her middle-school science curriculum.
Having no prior experience teaching computer science, Keesha was able to lean on Further, our comprehensive learning platform and pi-top products to bring STEAM learning to her students - read her story below!
- Name of district and school:
Calcasieu Parish Connected Classrooms (Virtual Instruction)
- Location of your district:
Lake Charles, Louisiana
- What grade/s do you teach?
Middle School 6-8
- What subject/s do you teach?
- How long have you been teaching these subjects?
Over 10 years
Tell us more about your experience with using technology for computer science and/or STEAM subjects...
Q. How long have you been teaching computer science/technology?
A. I've been teaching middle-school science for a long time but about 6 years ago I decided to begin adding elements of computer science to my curriculum.
Q. Did you have any personal experience with computer science prior to teaching it in your school?
A. No, none at all!
Q. What technology products do you use to teach computer science and STEAM/STEM in your school?
A. pi-top, Explore Learning, Vernier
Q. What are some of the challenges you face in teaching technology/computer science?
A. It can be difficult to add new technologies into the classroom while following a very structured district curriculum. Another challenge sometimes faced is the lack of professional development to help incorporate new tools (or training is provided, but there is no follow-up for additional questions or concerns that arise while using the product).
Did pi-top products help you solve any of the challenges mentioned above? If yes, how? If no, why not?
Yes, pi-top provided training to use new technology/equipment as well as the Further website. The lesson plans on the website give step-by-step instructions that also include visuals, which are extremely beneficial. Any time I had additional questions or concerns, I was able to reach out to a pi-top representative and receive support very quickly.
Tell us about your experience with pi-top...
Q. How did you discover pi-top products?
A. I learned about pi-top from a former Calcasieu Parish School Board employee.
Q. Do you use our lesson platform Further?
A. Yes, the lessons on Further have been a great asset.
Q. How easy or difficult was it for you to get started using your pi-top products?
A. After the initial training, I found it quite easy to follow lessons on Further to help get my students started.
Q. Is there anything that you or your students absolutely love about using pi-top products?
A. We love the STEAM challenges. They incorporate real-world scenarios and appeal to a diverse group. I like that the STEAM projects gain the attention of students who may not normally be interested in coding.
My personal favorite is the new Block Coding. I really like how easy it is to teach students the basics and then we can switch from “Block-Pi” to “Coding” (Python). This provides a solid foundation for beginners and also helps answer questions that may come up as we are working.
Q. Is there anything that you or your students don't like?
A. As a teacher it would be nice to have an approximate completion time listed with the challenges. This would help me with planning, especially on days where time is very limited.
Q. What is your favorite project (or what is your students' favorite project) using pi-top products?
A. We really enjoyed the “Fairground Carousel”. There were a lot of pieces to cut out, but it was worth it at the end to see their projects designed, decorated, and coded uniquely.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about your experience with pi-top?
As a person that has never coded prior to this, I would like to say that pi-top is very straightforward and easy to use. The training and lesson plans provided gave me the confidence I needed to try this out with my students and I am so glad I did. There are several tutorials on the Further site and then challenges that build from there. We made errors along the way, but corrections were easy to make and this led to great group discussions. I am looking forward to incorporating more in the upcoming school year.
If you or someone you know has had an experience with pi-top like Keesha's, we want to hear it! Not only are we looking for five teachers to feature on our website, they also stand the chance to win our Electronics & Robotics Superset.
Click here to submit a story.