CIRCL perspectives offer a window into the different worlds of various stakeholders in the cyberlearning community — what drives their work, what they need to be successful, and what they think the community should be doing. Share your perspective.
Angie Kalthoff is a K12 technology integrationist for a large public school district in central Minnesota, focusing on elementary grades. She previously taught English as a Second Language (ESL) for students who were new to the country. She is interested in learning more about computational thinking (CT) and bringing these concepts to the elementary classroom.
How did you get started in cyberlearning?
As a technology integrationist, I am interested in computer science education and getting all learners to have access to CS classes so that they can make connections with technology and express themselves in new ways. Students love to create, and they make thoughtful connections between what they are doing outside of school and subjects like English language arts, math, and art.
My own passion for technology can be traced back to my pursuit of passions outside of school. I created a GeoCities website as a middle schooler because growing up in the 1990s, I was one of many girls who had a goal of marrying Zac Hanson. I lived in a small town and didn’t know how I was going to meet him. So, to set myself apart from other fans and gain that chance, I created a Hanson website. I spent time researching the Hanson brothers and gathering facts in my A-Z Hanson book, complete with quizzes and fun facts, then transferred that knowledge to my very own GeoCities website. I was driven by the desire to meet the band. I envisioned that Zac would fall in love with me, obviously at first sight.
I never thought that what I was doing would be considered “techy” or that this passion project could be setting me up for a future career as a computer scientist, software engineer, learning designer, research associate or UX designer—all jobs that I learned about much later in life. Now that I work in education, I see the need to bring computational thinking into elementary classrooms and provide early computer science opportunities. The cyberlearning community is one way I hope to do this.
What do you want others to know about you?
I don’t have a computer science degree, but I have been learning along the way through various learning communities, including:
- Edcamps (first time by attending edcampmsp, now as a creator of EdCampMidMN)
- EdSurgeTLCMN which has helped contribute to sharing stories of personalized learning across the nation.
- Code.org’s Computer Science Fundamentals courses (see #codeorgpd). I am fortunate to help elementary educators implement CS in their classrooms.
- NSF-funded research conducted by Marina Bers and CS research highlighted in the STEM for ALL video showcase
Sharing with others and connecting educators to other educators is at the center of my work. In the professional development workshops I run, I try to share examples so that teachers can envision these activities and technologies in their own classrooms. I try to answer the questions like: How do you do this and what does it look like? How can you make it easy for a wide range of educators?
I am actively involved with my community. Recently, I got together with a group of central Minnesota educators to organize a student-powered conference where middle schoolers showcased what they are interested in learning about with a wider audience. This work is important in helping students connect learning with their interests and passions. It is also good for them to know that their teachers care! For teachers and educators who aren’t able to have their own conference, I encourage them to ask their students this question: What are you doing outside of school that you want to tell other students about?
What kinds of help or support would you like from cyberlearning community?
I am interested in connecting with researchers to learn more about their findings. I then want to share what I learn with practitioners who can be implementing that research in their classrooms. I want to understand how to apply and disseminate what has been learned through cyberlearning and the learning sciences so that teachers and students can benefit from it.
How would you like to see the CL community use social media?
I am very active on social media and I would love to see the cyberlearning community actively participating in twitter chats like: Early Childhood Education #ecechat, Computer Science for All #cs4all, #kidscancode and #mnlead.
Some ways the community can participate in twitter is by posting articles and videos to help others understand the research and how it might translate in practice.
How would you like to contribute back to the cyberlearning community?
I want to contribute contribute by working with researchers to develop ways in which teachers can apply their work. When I work with teachers, I always start with the question: Why? Now, I know that many of the answers to that question can be found in the work of the cyberlearning community. I hope to connect the teachers I work with to the CIRCL primers and website. I am also helping teachers and administrators take advantage of online PD opportunities like the Educator Micro-credential program from Digital Promise. Finally, I am personally interested in learning more about computational thinking so that I can bring that back to the cyberlearning community as well as my own.