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PLTW Innovators and Makers
September 2, 2019 5:47am

Welcome to PLTW Computer Science for Innovators and Makers!!!!! 

Course Description:

Computer Science for Innovators and MakersTM is a middle school level course that will allow students to discover computer science concepts and skills by creating personally relevant, tangible, and sharable projects. Throughout the units, students will learn about programming for the physical world by blending hardware design and software development. They will design and develop a physical computing device, interactive art installation, or wearable technology, and plan and develop code for microcontrollers that bring their physical designs to life. Innovators and Makers allow students to develop skills and understanding of course concepts through activity-, project-, and problem-based (APB) learning. Used in combination with a Paired Programming approach, APB-learning challenges students to continually hone their interpersonal skills, creative abilities, and understanding of the design process. It also allows students to develop strategies to enable and direct their learning, which is the ultimate goal of education. The course assumes no previous knowledge from the students beyond a willingness to learn. Students will employ engineering and scientific concepts in the solution of engineering design problems. Physical computing projects will promote student awareness of interactive systems, including Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and broaden their understanding of abstract computer science concepts through meaningful and authentic applications. Students are challenged to be creative and innovative, as they collaboratively design and develop solutions to engaging, authentic problems. Students will also learn how to document their work and communicate their solutions to their peers and members of the professional community. The course applies and concurrently develops secondary level knowledge and skills in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics.


The curriculum for this class is Project Lead The Way Gateway course Computer Science for Innovators and Makers. I use the Project Lead The Way platform and modify all assignments into small parts that students better understand. This course is challenging and programming is often frustrating, especially when students just want me to tell them the answers. If your student comes home frustrated, please encourage him/her to talk to me and attend tutoring. Often I can come up with a different way to teach a concept to match student learning. 


Composition Notebook, regular earbuds, pencil/pen

On Occassion students may be asked or may want to bring items from home to use on their projects.


70% Projects, Tests, Major Assignments, etc. 

30% Do Nows, Quizzes, Classwork, etc.

Grades are posted in TEAMS. Often you will see a grade in BLEND, but that is more for student feedback and to assist students with corrections. I wait until I have most of a class graded before transferring the grades to TEAMS. Going back and changing grades in TEAMS is very time consuming in this course, meaning grade changes due to corrections after grades are in TEAMS will not be changed immediately.

Students will be using algorithmic thinking to solve problems and program. This requires me to read through all of their code and/or try out their code as I grade. With algorithmic thinking, there are multiple ways to solve problems meaning that every student group might have different ways of programming their product. Bottom line: grading takes a long time in this course. 


• Projects are major components of the course which take place in our classroom computer lab and will involve working with small tools and/or devices such as the Micro:Bit computer, pressure sensor, flex sensor, photocell resistor, servos, alligator clips, scissors, etc. Therefore, following appropriate safety procedures is essential, and so that the computers and all computer components will not be damaged or misused. 

• Students will be responsible for using the computer assigned to them and will be using the internet only for class projects for this class unless otherwise instructed. Students who misuse another student’s computer or are on websites that do not pertain to class research/projects could result in a referral. ***Discipline for behavior will be followed according to the school discipline procedures and student handbook.                       

• If a student is absent, it is the responsibility of the student to complete and turn in work. All assignments are posted on BLEND with class notes and necessary resources. 

• Students will not be allowed to work on past projects or uncompleted classwork during class unless time permits. All missed or incomplete work/projects will need to be made up outside of our regular class time or done for homework. 

• Because of the nature of the class, computers, machines, etc. all food, candy, or drinks will not be allowed in the classroom or lab. Students may bring a water bottle into the classroom and place it on the shelf near the door. 

• Once students enter the classroom, they will not be allowed to go back to their backpacks for forgotten items.

• Cell phones and blue tooth devices are not allowed in the classroom without specific teacher permission. The school Cell Phone Policy will be followed should a cell phone disrupt the class in any fashion.

• When something becomes challenging or a student doesn't want to work on the assigned task while waiting for my assistance, they suddenly need to go somewhere, mostly the bathroom. Writing passes interferes with classroom instruction and assisting groups or individual students. Students are expected to go to the bathroom or take care of needs before entering the classroom. Passes will be written for emergencies or medical necessities only. Pass will not be written during direct classroom instruction.

Getting Help:

I have found that the best method of assisting all students is a sign-up sheet. When students need help, they simply sign the list. This allows me to get to students in order and spend the time necessary to answer their question(s). It also prevents other students from interrupting or repeatedly calling my name. When I notice students who have not signed up, I check in with them as soon as possible. If I do not get to every student by the end of class, I will start with those students in the next class period. Sometimes I ask students to submit what they have with their question(s) so I can be prepared to help them during the next class. Students are expected to work on their assignments or codehs assignments while waiting for my assistance. 

Homework and Tutoring Availability:

Homework is assigned very rarely. Most often students will have homework if absent or not using class time wisely. All student assignments will be posted to BLEND. Students can access their BLEND and the learning platforms used for this class from any computer.

My regular tutoring day is Thursday, 3:40-4:20 or longer if necessary. Sometimes students just need some time where I can focus solely on them and ask the questions that will move them to the next level. Students who have been absent or who do not understand a concept are encouraged to attend tutoring. Since our curriculum calls for Paired Programming, students may have to coordinate a day they can meet with me together. I will work with students and be flexible with meeting days whenever possible. 

Melissa Dunaway
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Teacher - Middle School
Touch Systems Data Entry (Keyboarding), PLTW Computer Science: Innovators and Makers, App Creators

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