Castleberry ISD Celebrates National #CSEdWeek

Castleberry ISD Celebrates National #CSEdWeek
Posted on 12/06/2021
Students on computer coding with the words District Celebrates National #CSEdWeek

Castleberry ISD is proud to celebrate national Computer Science Education Week. National Computer Science Education Week is an annual celebration of computer science that takes place the first week of every December to inspire students to learn computer science, advocate for equity, and recognize the contributions of students, teachers, and partners. In 2020, Castleberry ISD was featured as one of The River District Insider Tours to highlight the district's computer science and coding programs.

Last week, the district hosted Family Code Night to kick off the week-long celebration and encourage families to participate in Hour-of-Code activities. During this event, Families participated in three different types of coding activities: robotics, “unplugged” challenges, and code creation stations. Completion of all ten steps of an Hour of Code activity in the Creative Genius category were awarded a Drone Flight Pass, which allowed each to navigate one of the district’s drones through an obstacle course.

Castleberry ISD provides a variety of Computer Science opportunities to students all year. As jobs and careers continue to transform in this technological age, employees must be equipped with skills that include logical thinking, problem solving, and working collaboratively in a group, and therefore, the district is committed to providing Computer Science courses to all students. Renee Smith-Faulkner, Acting Superintendent of Castleberry ISD, states, “The district is dedicated to providing Computer Science for all students in order to expose them to computational thinking skills which will be vital for future success.”

Each elementary student in Castleberry ISD receives 12 weeks of Computer Science and Coding curriculum throughout the school year, in addition to coding activities that are embedded in the core content area curriculum. The Computer Science course covers a variety of subjects from digital citizenship, fair use and intellectual property, and cyber security as well as coding skills. Students are taught to code using a method called “block coding,” a drag-and-drop introductory learning environment for coding basics where students can gain a foundational understanding of computer science fundamentals in an age-appropriate manner. Students use their block coding skills to navigate mazes, create art, design games, and solve mathematical puzzles via the resources available on, a trusted and highly-acclaimed nonprofit dedicated to providing students with equitable access to computer science education.

Castleberry ISD is also proud to host an after-school coding club at all three of its elementary campuses. “Code Masters” offers 4th and 5th grade students the opportunity to learn and use Python, one of the most popular coding languages in the world, to create projects and solve puzzles. By using line code, students are able to expand and build upon the concepts already learned in their Coding class, such as events, loops, and variables. Students use a method called “pair programming” to work together and solve problems, which develops grit, persistence, and critical thinking skills.

At the middle school level, seventh grade students participate in Fundamentals of Computer Science for one year. The curriculum for this course is provided by and is a continuation of the skills learned in elementary school. Although the course is completed in middle school, students earn high school credit for the course upon successful completion.

The district is in the inaugural year of CISD STEM Academy @ River District. In February 2021, the Castleberry ISD Board of Education approved the creation of CISD STEM Academy @ River District. Following Board approval, district leadership began recruiting students in the graduating class of 2028 to join.

“Our students crave to be challenged and are highly motivated by opportunities in STEM. We have incredibly smart and talented children and we are responsible for giving them all the opportunities to succeed that we can,” stated Stephanie Martinez, CTE Coordinator at Castleberry ISD. “This STEM academy gives them that edge they need to be competitive in the future job market.”

CISD STEM Academy @ River District is housed inside Irma Marsh Middle School, and a new class of sixth grade students will be added each year. “If students complete the CISD STEM Academy Path, they will have the opportunity to graduate with 60 hours of college credit,” stated Smith-Faulkner.

High school students may choose to complete the Programming and Software Development pathway to continue learning computer science and build on the foundational skills learned in elementary and middle school coding. The programming and Software Development program of study explores the occupations and education opportunities associated with researching, designing, developing, and testing operating systems-level software, compilers, and network distribution software for medical, industrial, military, communications, aerospace, business, scientific, and general computer applications. This program of study may also include exploration into creating, modifying, and testing the codes, forms, and scripts that allow computer applications to run.

“STEM careers and job opportunities are flooding our local market. This trend will continue well into the future,” stated Martinez. “We have to ensure our students are viable candidates for these positions.” Students enrolled in this pathway learn all the skills necessary to receive Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) industry based certification prior to graduating from high school. Successful completion of the Programming and Software Development program of study will fulfill requirements of a Business and Industry or STEM Endorsement.

National Computer Science Education week or #CSEdWeek continues through December 12. Check the district’s Facebook page to learn more about STEM programs.