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Amy Hill’s classroom: Student goes from “computers never helped me” to teaching others

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This year Battelle is training 46 teachers in computer science. We’re able to do this thanks to the support of the national non-profit Code.org. To take you inside that training experience, we will be profiling teachers in the program all throughout the year.

Amy Hill had been teaching English for 17 years in Greenfield when her principal approached her with a new opportunity. Her master’s degree in educational technology from Western Kentucky University made her a prime candidate to teach a new class: computer science.

171013 Amy Hill (2)She built the entire course from the ground up. “So last year,” said Hill, “I just taught them the Google Suite and some basic, fundamental computer skills.” But as she rounded out her course, Code.org kept popping up. The resources led her to focusing primarily on Code curriculum for the next year.

Now, she’s in a CS Discoveries cohort, preparing to teach the full course to her 7th and 8th graders. They will both learn the first semester of CS Discoveries this year, with Hill working right alongside them.

“The community that I live in is very very high poverty,” said Hill. The village of Greenfield is a rural Ohio community between Cincinnati and Columbus, a ways away from a large urban center. She sees immense value in subjects like computer science, even if students themselves might not see the direct connection to their lives.

“I can remember one kid in particular,” said Hill. “He said – I don’t know why I’m in this class… computers never helped me!”

“And I was like – well, let’s just see what we can do with it.”

After a few months, he was helping to teach other students who initially struggled like he did. Hill said that his outlook shifted completely.Amy Hill 1 (1)

“Well yeah, you helped me understand it – he goes –  You just have to kind of let yourself learn.”

Hill has always believed in a collaborative classroom environment, giving students the green light to help each other out has worked well, especially in computer science.

“[Collaboration] really helped those kids who are really shy and think that they can’t do it. It empowers them to know that they can.”

She aims to keep her classroom moving forward. By the next school year, her 7th graders will work on the first semester of CS Discoveries, and her 8th graders will receive the second. She’s excited to prepare students for the CS Principles teacher at the local high school, and AP course with potential college credit.

“We work closely together and he’s super excited,” said Hill. “They’ll have a lot more knowledge coming into it than what they have now.”

Hill is looking forward to the professional development sessions to come. We’ll check back in after a few months for an update. Sign up to hear more about the journey of Amy and other teachers over the next few months.

School counselors and school administrators are invited to attend an informational workshop on November 8th. Details and registration here.

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