Professional Development Sessions

The Building Systems from Scratch project has hosted three summer professional development sessions since 2015, when we piloted the program for 8th graders in a Boston area school system. Participating teachers have explored climate systems and systems thinking, principles of game design, and computational thinking practices. They have critiqued student games and created games themselves. They have discussed how participatory pedagogy supports student-centered learning and which instructional strategies encouraged distributed expertise.

For an overview of teachers’ experiences, please click to view this PowerPoint presentation.

Our work has shown that teachers with little computing experience can successfully implement the programming and game design elements of the modules, because the curriculum promotes distributed expertise among students through online search strategies, curricular resources, and public recognition of student experts among their peers.

There are three professional development sessions you can access here:


And when you step back as a teacher and you have the other students need to depend on each other, it allows these, some of my students who typically are seen as non-producers or not capable cognitively to understand things, they can at least help you code, and they can help you do this, and it boosts their self-esteem a bit, or it makes them a little more engaged. So I think that’s a benefit that will always stick with me, is watching the classroom sort of change its dynamic right in front of me."

– Mr. S, Teacher