Year Two

Awkward

So this is blog post makes me super uncomfortable. I mean almost everything makes me horribly awkward, so I guess this shouldn’t surprise anyone.

This is me asking for money (for my kids).

In this whole journey for transformational change and making waves and long-term impact, I have run up against the metaphorical/literal financial wall. This year, I’m teaching a class that includes robotics, but our school lost $100k in Title I, sufficiently taking out Ms. Abram’s robotics budget. We need 21 LEGO Mindstorms’ kits, which run at $350 each.

If you’re an easy sell, click here to donate. If you want more info, keep reading for the rest of the story.

Ms. Abram ~ art history major turned computer science teacher

I ended up teaching computer science by accident.

On Wednesday, December 3, 2014, I sobbed uncontrollably in the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot at 6:30 a.m. because I was anxious about going to school (and y’know, 4,213 other things). I called my dad, then called in sick, then crawled in bed.

The next morning I got an email about participating in the Hour of Code during National Computer Science week. I think I read a sentence about it being a 100% self-guided tutorial, which I read as, “you won’t have to talk to the children,” and I was sold.

Two months later, I got an email from Donors Choose and Khan Academy, offering up to $3,000 if your students complete an introductory JavaScript tutorial. It would take about 8 class sessions to finish the tutorial, but that meant EIGHT whole classes I wouldn’t have to prep for, AND I would get $3,000. I was sold.

In May, we were making scheduling changes, and needed new elective classes, and they turned to me.

“Hey, you seem to know your way around a computer lab, wanna teach a computer programming class? Yes? Cool. Just write a curriculum for it, send it over, and you’ll be good to go.”

OH LOL you want me to write a curriculum for a computer science class. You know I studied art history, right? You know I have no education background? OK cool.

Like all good teachers, I immediately turned to Google. I searched “computer science curriculum.” I looked at the second site that popped up, did a quick read through, and hit print.

Now, here I am, six months later, teaching Exploring Computer Science to 41 of the most loving, irritating, dedicated students at my school. They’re the best/worst kids in the whole wide world. I go from wanting to strangle a kid to wanting to adopt him in a 15 minute time span.

I’ve been trying to teach them problem solving skills and binary and algorithms, and we’re doing the web design unit right now, but everyday I get the same question.

“WHEN DO WE GET THE ROBOTS??????”

“NOT UNTIL APRIL SIT DOWN AND DO YOUR WORK”

My kids don’t get a lot of opportunities, but I think you already knew that. I want them to be excited about school. I want them to be excited about computer science and maybe going to college for something STEM-y and maybe being an engineer and maybe ending up making more money than their corny math teacher.

So, we’re learning computer science (yes literally me and them), and we need these robotics kits to learn how to implement our programming skills and strengthen our analytical and problem solving skills. I could go on for days about how meaningful these kits would be for my students’ educations. This, right here, is where you come in.

Do I know what I’m doing? No. Is that stopping me? Nope.

(also, if you actually read all the way to here, thank you)

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