Hello Everyone! I’m Renee Coley and I’m a 6th grade ELA teacher at a 5-8 middle school in Reynoldsburg, Ohio which is right outside of Columbus. With a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and a Master’s in Children’s Literature, I am certainly a non-traditional CS teacher. After 24 years of teaching, I will be taking this passion I have for CS and bringing it full force into my middle school as a class and not just an after-school activity.
I got into computer science as a family affair. Five years ago, my husband who is a teacher at a STEM high school in the district, helped to start FRC Team 4085 and I went along for the ride as a mentor. Our oldest son, who was a sophomore at the time, was part of the group of students that founded the team and he continues today as mentor. You can’t spend countless hours around a robotics team and not get hooked so by the time our younger son joined the team as a programmer I was all in. This year I started an after-school robotics program at my school that uses a mix of FLL Lego League Mindstorms, Vex, and littleBits. I’ve spent the last five years learning along with the kids and I’m excited that I will be able to continue that process by being a part of this pilot.
The Hour of Code was the first in-class activity I did with my students this year that really got my principal to look at CS as more than just an activity we should do once a year or on Friday afternoons for fun. She really got to see what the kids were able to do and how engaged they were in the whole process. We recently got some littleBits sets so during a robotics meeting I put them out on the table and stepped back. Within five minutes there were spinning wheels, flashing lights, and buzzing sounds. My principal said “But you didn’t give them any directions or tell them anything.” Exactly. That’s what I love the most about CS. I’m a guide. There for support. We learn together.
Between now and August, I will be part of the team that creates a Makerspace in our school that will not only be used to enhance our curriculum but also be a part of our school’s mission of community outreach.
Middle school and ridiculous are synonymous most days so there isn’t just one story to tell. I’m sure you’ll hear plenty from me in the coming year. I’ve been looking forward to meeting this group since I got my acceptance email! Can’t wait for November!