Every year, technology becomes more and more amazing. Much of this is owed to the field of computer science – which has found applications in many different industries. It’s no surprise, then, that multiple people are starting successful careers in many computing sectors.
Likewise, computer science has become a core focus of schools and teachers as part of a general effort to prepare kids for their future careers. However, given the complex nature of the topic, lesson plan resources have become invaluable in this area.
But – who are the best computer science lesson plan resource providers?
Read our computer science lesson plan resource guide to find the best computer science teaching resource types, providers, and more!
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What Is Computer Science And What Are Some Of The Most Important Sub-topics?
Computer Science is a relatively new subject that deals with various computer-related topics. The topics range from historical teachings to learning about the functions of computers. Here are some of the most critical computer science subtopics.
- Artificial intelligence: Includes AI basics, computer vision, machine AI learning, soft computing, robotics, and natural language processing.
- Databases: Outline of databases, relational databases, structured storage, and data mining.
- Programming languages and compilers: Compiler theory, programming language pragmatics and theory, formal semantics, and type theory.
- Scientific computing: Computational science, numerical analysis, symbolic computation, computational physics, computational neuroscience, and more.
- Theory of computation: Automata theory, computability theory, computational complexity theory, and quantum computing theory.
Now obviously, there is a lot of technical jargon mixed up in here. For the sake of K12 schools, just know computer science is the study of computers, how they work, and, primarily, how we can design software to work with what we know about computers, math, and data structures.
Inevitably, though, there’s no way around computer science being a complicated topic – which is why computer science resources are so vital.
What Are The Highest Quality Elements Schools Should Search For In A Computer Science Teaching Resource?
As mentioned, computer science is a massive subject with several complicated sub-topics. Therefore, numerous teaching resources for it expand on various core topics.
Because of the large number of computer science lesson plan resources, it can be challenging to decide on the best offering. Therefore, before deciding on a computer science teaching resource provider, you must determine what qualities you want from a computer science resource.
Here are three elements the best computer science resources possess to give you an idea of what to look for from a computer science teaching resource.
It Should Ideally Focus On A Single Topic
A clear focus is essential for a computer science lesson plan resource, because there are numerous topics. If you find teaching resources that try to cover multiple computer science topics in the same breath, the resources will either be overlong or very basic (i.e. they won’t provide enough information to actually understand any single concept).
Therefore, you need to look for a computer science teaching resource that focuses on a singular topic. This will ensure that the students engage with the content and retain the computer science teachings.
The only exception to this rule is introductory courses – because they often need to introduce more than one sub-topic with very shallow information. An introductory computer science course should provide a brief overview of one or more computer science topics, giving students the essential information in the process.
In the same vein, though, the introductory course should focus specifically on introducing students to topics. If the resource starts diving too in-depth then the focus is broken.
It Should Be Full Of Accurate Information
One of the most critical elements to look for in a computer science teaching resource is accurate information. You want all the computer science teachings to be correct, as getting one fundamental wrong can cause issues down the road.
In order to achieve this in a K-12 setting, the best bet is to make sure the resource aligns with local curriculum standards. When a computer science resource sticks closely to a curriculum, it guarantees that the resource will be full of high-quality teachings.
This also has the benefit of making sure the difficulty is properly scaled to student level. Many computer science resources are intended for college students and simply not appropriate for younger audiences. Curriculum standards are there to make sure you aren’t teaching a topic before that age group is ready to process it.
It Should Increase Student Interest In Computer Science
Many computer science teaching resources have a clear focus and curriculum-based teachings, so the deciding factor can often be the entertainment level.
A brilliant computer science lesson plan resource should gain students’ interest and make them want to use more computer science resources. A computer science teaching resource can do this by making the teachings as fun as possible.
Thus, you don’t want to just rely on lectures. The best resources will provide students a variety of ways to practice and learn the material covered. After all, learning a bunch of theory is not the best way for students to put computer science into practice.
The more interested the students are, the best they will do.
What Are The Top Computer Science Lesson Plan Resources?
When you narrow down your specific computer science lesson plan resource requirements, you need to start looking for the particular resource types that will benefit your students the most. There are multiple computer science lesson plan resources, including printable activities, computer science classroom decorations, and more.
However, the best computer science lesson plan resources focus on detailed courses. Here are three computer science lesson plan resource types and why they are effective for students.
Intro To Computer Science Courses
When it comes to an extensive subject like computer science, students need an excellent introductory course to get a helpful overview of what to expect from the subject. Ideally, these intro to computer science courses shouldn’t cover every topic. Still, it should focus on one or two topics and detail the sub-topics and why that computer science element is useful.
Something also to look out here for is to make sure that the topics are suitable for different age groups. As such, you may not actually be jumping into computer science proper, but related topics that will prepare students to better understand the complex ones.
For an example of the above, Zenva Schools has a number of introductory courses for various age groups. While none of the topics themselves are technically computer science, they are closely related and help students understand core topics in how computers work. This will quickly enable them to start learning things like algorithms and databases. We’ve detailed a few key ones below:
- Intro to Hardware & Software: A course for Years 3 & 4 covering many basic computer teachings, specifically on how software and hardware handle data. Students can learn about how computers can help them with digital problem-solving, how software and hardware are different, and how things like peripheral devices deal with data input and output.
- Intro to Digital Systems: A course for Years 5 & 6 that teaches students the fundamental features of digital systems. Students can learn about how computers receive and send critical data, how the internet works, what a computer’s internal components are, how data can be represented, and more.
- Intro to Networks: A course for Years 7 & 8 that focuses on how computers connect via a network. Students can learn what a network is, how to connect computers, how to secure the transmission of critical data, and more.
- Data Representation & Binary: A course for Years 7 & 8 that focuses on data. Students will learn what binary is and how we turn binary into something we can use to represent various kinds of data – including text, sound, and colors.
- Managing Data in Networked Systems: A course for Years 9 & 10 that covers more complex data control topics. This includes topics on the functionality of operating systems, how we compress data, and – most importantly – how data encryption across a network works.
Algorithm & Programming Courses
While there are a lot of sub-topics to computer science, it should be no surprise that one of the core aspects concerns programming. Programming is the process by which we tell a computer how to complete a specific task we want done – only in a specific language the computer. Algorithms are simply how we design and structure the instruction logic.
Though programming is a small component of the larger field of computer science, it is one every computer scientist is expected to know. This is also a topic very suitable for K-12 as long as you aim at introductory courses first.
When evaluating resources for this type, be sure to pick one that focuses on both. Many programming courses focus only on the language syntax, and students don’t really learn much about the actual algorithm part. Algorithms are a necessary component for students to learn – arguably more-so than the programming part itself.
To example this, we’ll check out Zenva Schools‘ courses again. It has a few different topics that focus specifically on both aspects, with a huge emphasis on the algorithms part.
- Intro to Coding with Scratch: A course aimed mostly at younger students, it focuses on the free Scratch tool. Students learn how to use block-based programming blocks to design algorithms using things like flowcharts.
- Intro to Coding with Python Turtle: A course suitable for younger and older students. The course teaches students how to design algorithms and move a “Turtle” (which acts like a pen), to create digital art with the Python Turtle library.
- Python Turtle Mini-Projects: A continuation of the course above, this course furthers the education of algorithms and coding by having students make three fun projects. On top of this, students also get a crash course in project management for software.
- Python Projects – Medical Diagnosis Bot: A Python-focused course for high school students. This course uses the real-life situation of medical diagnosis to not only teach students principles of designing practical algorithms, but code them as well.
Databases & Data Courses
The next type of resource to focus on for computer science are databases – and by relation data itself. For the purposes of K-12, it’s important that these topics are scaled down a bit for the audience. As such, you don’t want to jump into complicated math equations that are going to involve students yanking out their scientific calculators every five seconds.
Instead, these resources should focus on two things specifically. First is the management and creation of databases. Thus, you want courses that focus on not only what databases are, but how to create and update table data.
Second, you’ll want courses that also focus on topics like where to get data from and work with data in non-destructive ways.
Zenva Schools also has a collection of courses in this area you can view to get an idea of what we mean.
- Intro to SQL using Python: A course focused on combining Python and SQLite to manage databases. Students will learn basic database functionality like how to query information, sort information, and similar.
- Intermediate SQL Databases with Python: A continuation of the previous course, students learn more about databases. In this case, they focus on things like creating their own databases, populating them with data, changing data, and even removing rows from their tables.
- Data Manipulation with Python and Pandas: A computer science resource that shows students how to manipulate data. The specific teachings in the lesson plan resource include showing students the Pandas Library, teaching them how to get data from files (excel and CSV), select data sets, sort data, and more.
Other Computer Science Sub-Topic Courses
Once your students complete some introductory courses and some of the sub-topics above, you can move them onto computer science lesson plan resources that focus on teachings from other more advanced sub-topics.
These can include things like the basics of AI or even how to deal with more complex materials related to the previously covered topics. Once again, remember that you want to match the topics to student age.
For example, Zenva Schools’ course Intermediate Python and Pandas – Data Analysis focuses on using the Pandas library to take sets of data and analyze them. This includes things such as preparing the data and how to draw conclusions from it. However, this course is specifically aimed at Years 11 and 12, as anything more difficult would be more appropriate for college-level studies.
What Are The Very Best Computer Science Lesson Plan Resource Providers?
Before deciding on the best computer science teaching resource option for your students, you must compare some of the best computer science teaching resource providers.
Because of the sheer size of computer science as a subject, many lesson plan resource providers have engaging resources to help teachers create lesson plans. However, some computer science resource providers are better than others.
Here are three top computer science lesson plan providers and their best features.
Twinkl is a platform that has many teaching resources for primary and secondary school students. However, they also have a strong section for homeschool situations as well.
As you might have guessed, Twinkl has several lesson plan resources focusing on computer science. These include things like reading comprehension tasks, Python courses, printable activities, and more. Thus, there is a lot to be found.
This being said, Twinkl’s game is a lot stronger in the supplemental activities area. If you want a complete course, there are better providers out there. Additionally, older students will also be better served in different places online.
Udemy is an extensive online learning resource provider with a focus on video lessons. As anyone can make a course on Udemy, these come from multiple providers – meaning you get tons of options on which resource fits your classroom the best.
Most of Udemy’s computer science resources are introductory courses to teach the basics of computer science to beginners. However, you can find courses on specific sub-topics, AI and machine learning just to name one.
However, it is worth noting a few things regarding Udemy:
- Udemy is aimed at individual, adult self-learners first. As such, features for schools are limited.
- Because there are multiple providers, you will have to do the legwork to find which resources work and which don’t – as quality here is not assured.
It should be no surprise that Zenva Schools is part of this list since Zenva Schools’ courses were mentioned so much previously. We aren’t going to go over the course aspect – as obviously by this point Zenva Schools has tons of age-appropriate resources in the vein of computer science.
However, Zenva Schools has a few other things that make it stand out for using the resources in the classroom.
First, Zenva Schools has pre-mapped lesson plans for both Australiand US curricula standards. As such, it’s easy to see where the information connections to the learning objectives for students. Plus, and as mentioned before, this ensures information is accurate.
Second, Zenva Schools has tools specifically for the classroom. This includes a classroom management tool for organizing students and classes, and student reports for tracking student progress.
Finally, Zenva Schools offers a variety of learning content for each course, including material such as video course lessons, text-based lesson summaries, downloadable source code, interactive activities, quizzes, and more.
Which Top Computer Science Lesson Plan Resource Provider Is The Best For Schools?
There are a massive number of computer science lesson plan resources out there. Choosing the best one will depend on what you need to accomplish.
From our list, Zenva Schools is a top contender. Not only does it have quality, school-relevant content, but the features just for teachers make it easy to incorporate into schools. Plus, it accomodates multiple age groups, so you can start at some early, formative years.
In either case, rest assured teaching computer science is not a subject you want to pass up in preparing kids for the future!
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