The ITI Summer of CS: Cultivating Creativity, Innovation, & Curiosity Remotely

By Sophia Mendoza, Director, Instructional Technology Initiative Los Angeles Unified School District And Dr. Vanessa Monterosa, Specialist, Program & Policy Development, Instructional Technology Initiative Los Angeles Unified School District

Sophia Mendoza, Director, Instructional Technology Initiative Los Angeles Unified School District

COVID-19 has presented numerous challenges to teaching and learning. Educators anticipated these challenges would be further exacerbated during the summer given less opportunities to connect and collaborate. However, the Instructional Technology Initiative (ITI) remained hopeful and steadfast in their mission to continue expanding computer science (CS) education, even if it meant to the homes of students and families across L.A. Unified.

From June 24 to July 22, the ITI Summer of CS program was offered to over 5,000 students. Over 80 teachers answered the call to action to serve as CS educators, offering more than 220 sessions of 5 courses. For example, students who enrolled in “Building Creative Confidence with LEGO Bricks,” they received a set of LEGO bricks delivered straight to their homes to engage in creative constructing. Session experiences ranged from simple machine learning to game-based learning. The table below outlines all the CS learning opportunities offered to students this past summer:

Dr. Vanessa Monterosa, Specialist, Program & Policy Development, Instructional Technology Initiative Los Angeles Unified School District

The ITI Summer of CS program concluded with a special all-day celebration on Facebook Live, where each teacher tuned in with their Zoom class of students to honor highlighted student projects and engage in a Code.Org dance party. A special treat during the all-day celebration was a personal message from Code.Org founder, Hadi Partovi, expressing his appreciation for L.A. Unified’s tireless efforts to help children be creative, innovative, and curious even if we are remote.

ITI’s mission is to expand computer science education for all students to ensure access, equity, and opportunity District-wide. The District is committed to providing computer science education for all students by 2025, ensuring every student:

• Receives 20 hours of computer science instruction each year from Pre-kindergarten to 5th grade

• Completes at least one rigorous and relevant computer science course in grades 6-8

• Has access to a computer science pathway in grades 9-12

The commitment to this mission is what paved the way for the ITI Summer of CS that inspired children across Los Angeles to dream big despite our current circumstances. The ITI Summer of CS was made possible by our ITI support staff, brave CS educators, and robust partnerships with key CS organizations, such as Scratch, Google for Education CS First, LEGO Education, Code.Org, and Microsoft Minecraft Education.

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