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Success in Fort Madison School District

Building a Strong Foundation for K-12 Computer Science Education

Fort Madison Community School District + NewBoCo

District Overview

Laying the Groundwork for “Systemic” Computer Science Education

5 Fort Madison Community School District teachers pose before a room decorated brightly with balloons and streamers. They're learning about computer science with NewBoCo and CSforALL today.At Fort Madison Community School District (FMCSD), computer science is viewed as one of the most powerful tools to solve real-world problems. Computer science education is now essential for setting today’s students up to achieve future success. To develop a vision and implementation plan for its K-12 computer science initiative, Fort Madison participated in a Strategic CSforALL Resource & Implementation Planning Tool (SCRIPT) workshop hosted by CSforALL. Kim Harmon, director of curriculum and student services at Fort Madison Community School District, shared that prior to the workshop, “[Fort Madison] had sporadic computer science happening at different levels—librarians were doing some things, we had classes happening at the high school periodically—but there was nothing systemic.” While at the SCRIPT workshop, Fort Madison connected with NewBoCo—an Iowa nonprofit that works with school districts to strengthen computer science instruction. The resources and support offered by NewBoCo provided an opportunity for the Fort Madison Community School District to systematically implement computer science education in grades K-12. Related Resource: Why Computer Science in Iowa? Fort Madison partnered with NewBoCo to develop a long-term plan for implementing computer science education across all grade levels. “Our initial work with NewBoCo really helped to broaden our perspective and think about the possibilities of computer science for our kids on a systemic kind of basis,” Harmon said. “NewBoCo was supportive and hugely instrumental in helping us lay the groundwork.” Fort Madison Community School District teachers chat and work together in a CSforALL robotics programming exercise that places them around a table with a grid of images that they must navigate by programming a fist-sized, bee-shaped robot.Instructional coaches from the district collaborated with NewBoCo to determine how to expand computer science education to more classrooms—without it feeling like an extracurricular activity, or “add-on”. “NewBoCo helped [our district] focus in on where we were, what opportunities we had and how to expand [computer science] at the elementary, middle and high school level,” explained Rachella Dravis, teacher leadership system coordinator at Fort Madison Community Schools. In collaboration with NewBoCo, Fort Madison hosted a five-day long workshop where teachers could familiarize themselves with computer science education and earn certification credit. Related Resource: How Fort Madison Is Using Computer Science and Innovation to Overcome Barriers “NewBoCo helped us arrange certification credit for participating teachers, and that was a big incentive for them,” said Wendy Bailey, computer science integration coach at Fort Madison Community Schools. “We had a great turnout, with about 50 teachers attending.” Since the workshop took place, leaders at Fort Madison have seen increased interest and confidence from teachers in teaching computer science. “NewBoCo brought the knowledge in and made our teachers feel like ‘this isn’t anything that I’m not already doing; I just have to learn to tweak my language’—whether it’s algorithms in math or it’s in social studies,” Dravis said. “The resources that they were able to show our teachers were incredible.”

Your Local Partner in Computer Science Education

Young Fort Madison Community School District students work diligently to assemble CSforALL robotics projects.With roots in Iowa, NewBoCo’s team is deeply familiar with state funding opportunities and computer science standards. This expertise has proven crucial in helping Fort Madison invest in computer science education and prepare for House File 2629—Iowa’s new K-12 computer science requirements.

Related Resource: Prepare for Iowa’s K-12 Computer Science Requirements

“Whatever [our district’s] need was, NewBoCo met us where we were—if we didn’t have the financial means for something, they figured it out,” said Dravis. “NewBoCo’s resources and connections have really helped us expand our computer science initiative.”

When Iowa’s State Legislature passed House File 2629 in 2020, districts across the state had to determine how they would meet new K-12 computer science requirements. Because Fort Madison had already started laying the groundwork with NewBoCo, this process hasn’t been as daunting.

“What I appreciate about NewBoCo, is they’re able to blend the language of computer science with education; sometimes, as teachers, we’re intimidated by the idea of it,” Harmon shared. “NewBoCo makes computer science accessible and very user friendly, and I think that works really well with educators—the front-line folks that we need to be delivering this instruction to our kids.”

Is your district prepared to meet Iowa’s new K-12 computer science requirements? NewBoCo is here to support you with funding, training, and more.