A Look into AP CSP at Iron Mountain High School, Michigan
A Look into AP CSP at Iron Mountain High School, MichiganMaria Alcon-Heraux, Director, Communications
Renee Yake from Iron Mountain High School in Michigan has documented her experiences teaching AP Computer Science Principles for the first time with a creative video to show how her students are learning the foundations of computer science. While Ms. Yake also teaches Algebra, Pre-Calculus, and AP Calculus in this rural high school of 340 students, last year she decided to take on a new challenge.
“I have learned so much in this course,” she says. “I am now comfortable saying, I don’t know, that but let’s find out together, which is something my students really appreciate.”
The AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP) course was designed to give many more students the space, time, and technical tools they need to explore computing and create solutions to real-world problems. Its launch was the most successful course launch in AP history. In the course’s inaugural year, we saw overall AP Computer Science participation increase by 79% in just one year. Not only did the number of female students participating in AP computer science courses more than double during the same time, but the number of rural students did as well (increasing from 4,898 to 9,997).
In Michigan, the number of students taking an AP Computer Science exam nearly doubled, from 962 in 2016 to 1,659 in 2017.
Ms. Yake is contributing to that growth in Michigan rural schools. Last summer, she attended a week-long Code.org training session in Philadelphia, funded by a professional learning partnership between Code.Org and the Michigan Math and Science Center Network. It was the first time she was introduced to the concept of becoming a “lead learner” in her class and stepping out of the idea that teachers have to know everything.
“I wasn’t sure about taking another subject on, but I loved the Code.org curriculum, and I just ran with it,” she says. “You can’t know everything about computer science—it is changing every day.”
At first, she thought the course would entail a lot of programming, and while she enjoyed that, she was not an expert in coding. But the course turned out to be a lot more.
Right now, Ms. Yake is teaching her students about how the internet works and data privacy issues. She teaches 19 students and says they all see the value of what they are learning for their future careers.
“Nobody in my class says, when am I going to use this?” she says.
Five of her 19 AP CSP students are female this year.
Her female students tell her, “I didn’t know anything about computer science, but it is still interesting and a lot of fun;” they recommend taking the class because they realize that “no matter what your future career is, we are all going to be using computer technology somehow.”
Ms. Yake is already trying to recruit more female students for next year by showing her AP CSP video in her math classes.
“I love learning new things, and I love that it’s been a team effort,” says Mr. Yake about her first AP CSP class.
If you want to see a video featuring her students, click here.