This month CSTA Iowa shines a spotlight on Rachella Dravis. Rachella is the Teacher Leadership System Coordinator at Fort Madison Community School District.

CSTA Iowa Spotlight on Rachella Dravis

District/Organization: Fort Madison Community School District
City: Fort Madison
Describe your teaching position or role:
As our Teacher Leadership System Coordinator, I have the privilege of working with various educational stakeholders, from parent teacher organizations to our associates. Teaching computer science and integrating it into the curriculum was a priority I held while I was in the classroom. I have carried that standard with me as I transitioned to working in my current position. It is imperative that we give opportunities to all our students, especially those that are under represented in the field of computer science. Working alongside the instructional coaches, we are a support system to our computer science and classroom teachers, who are learning the importance of integrating technology into other curricular and instructional areas. As participants in training and workshops, our computer science teachers have “think” partners with the instructional coaching staff. I am very proud of the collaborative community we are building within our district. The best part of my supportive role was when working with a kindergarten teacher on English Language Arts standards and a gentle nudge on how to bring computer science into that lesson. We were able to create learning activities connected to the standards and model using various mats and programming robots as part of the learning target. That was all it took for the teacher to run with it. I have been part of more collaborative conversations around integration of computer science in the past three years than ever before in my teaching career. It really excites me to be part of this movement in our rural community; bringing opportunities in computer science that were not there previously.
What 's your favorite CS concept or lesson to teach? Why?
My favorite CS concept is engaging learners in computational thinking and building computational thinkers. All learners have this within themselves; it is just a matter of engaging students in opportunities that allow them to see they are thinking critically, problem solving to find solutions, and becoming computational learners. The connections between humans and computers isn’t really that different when students start to see the similarities and connections between their thinking and the thinking of a computer.
What 's your favorite CS resource? Why?
There are three resources that I use regularly; CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards, and Scratch. As instructional coaches, we work together to build capacity in our instructional practices. When teachers see how computer science standards fit within the curriculum and build learning activities, the excitement begins. Just being able to show computer science tools that can be used, and teaching the reading or math standard along with a computer science standard. This reaches a level of engagement from students that excites the learning. It has created another opportunity for our underrepresented students.
Why did you join CSTA & CSTA Iowa?
I joined CSTA & CSTA Iowa to take advantage of opportunities for me as an educator. If I continue my journey of learning then I will be able to build more opportunities for our students. Becoming part of a collaborative group allows me to see what other districts are doing and how they are handling their struggles. I am able to hear and share ideas; bringing multiple perspectives to the conversation. The most important part of joining has been the sharing of resources. Whether it is tools, websites, or suggestions this is incredibly helpful when trying to navigate through our own learning journey.