CodeJoy Welcomes Back Amanda Jeane Strode to Join the Teaching Team!

Amanda Jeane has interviewed all of our Pathfinders Summer Institute Teachers, and now EarthDwellers’ Adam Lazarus turns the tables to see what Amanda Jeane is excited about this Summer!
May 31, 2024 by
CodeJoy Welcomes Back Amanda Jeane Strode to Join the Teaching Team!
CodeJoy, Susan Willems

Amanda Jeane Strode joined the CodeJoy teaching team last summer for the highly successful 2023 Infosys Foundation USA Pathfinders Summer Institute. She makes her triumphant return this summer, hitting the screen once again to help bring a brand new PD course to educators across the USA! Amanda Jeane is the Director of Learning for CodeJoy, a current micro:bit Champion, presenting virtually and in-person at conferences like ISTE and PETE&C. As a classroom teacher, she facilitated numerous indoor and outdoor activities with students, started robotics clubs, and supported teacher networks both local and global. 

As CodeJoy’s Director of Learning, Amanda Jeane teaches on screen and writes engaging curricula to help teachers equitably bring technology into their classrooms. This summer, alongside EarthDwellers Executive Director and insect scientist Adam Lazarus, Amanda Jeane will help teachers to engage students in the great outdoors through the portal of the micro:bit! She’s created a brand new curriculum of micro:bit activities designed to build students’ environmental literacy skills. Let’s see what she’s excited about for this new PD course and beyond!

Adam Lazaurs (AL): What course are you teaching this summer and what makes you excited about it?

Amanda Jeane Strode (AJS): I'm teaching "Micro:bit in the Garden" with Adam this summer, and I am very excited to use the microbit in very applicable scientific ways. I love the micro:bit. I use it for many things with lots of different aged students. I've been a micro:bit Champion, which is a large community of people who share micro:bit all over the world. I think we're in need of more ways of using that micro:bit with the world around us, ways that are meaningful to classrooms and students. This course, in particular, is great because it's using the micro:bit with a science lens to collect data and learn how the Earth is communicating with us in different ways.

AL: How are you feeling about this collaboration with CodeJoy and EarthDwellers?

AJS: I'm really excited to work with Adam. I am also super excited that this is my course. Many of the courses that CodeJoy has in the repertoire are created and written by Kelsey and Matt. It's nice to have something that is mine that I'm owning and preparing myself that I’m looking forward to sharing with others. [I’m excited] that our course incorporates my own experience as a science teacher and my own love of what I find most exciting about the micro:bit in particular.

AL: What do you find rewarding about teaching educators?

AJS: I love working with teachers and educators. I love working with kids, but with an educator there is more of an impact. When I teach something to a teacher, it spreads into their classroom and into all of those other students or their colleagues or their friends. I have appreciated in my career, when I have had other teachers, mentors, or administrators who have taught me something or built me up, they have helped me feel successful and confident. I really enjoy passing that on and paying it forward.

AL: When did you first become inspired in a STEM field?

AJS: I've always loved nature. I also have always had an affinity to technology. Technology has just been something that isn't hard for me. So, I've always called myself “tech-friendly.” Even if I don't understand it, I don't have a problem figuring it out. In high school, I was constantly fixing my teachers' smart boards and projectors. In college, I was the person who made websites and the presentations for all of our projects. Then, when I got to the classroom, I was super lucky. My school district brought Birdbrain Technologies in to teach Librarians. I wasn't even a librarian. I was just a first-year teacher, but I sort of snuck my way into this professional development. I learned about creative robotics and that sealed the deal for me. I immediately loved it. I had no clue what I was doing, but I dove in headfirst and I've never looked back.

AL: You have had open arms with regards to new technology. Suppose two years from now, there's something that surpasses micro:bit in the classroom. How do you think you'll feel about embracing some new technology with which you've had almost no experience?

AJS: I'd like to say that I'm open and willing to try it. I've tried lots of different Ed Tech tools, particularly in robotics. However, I personally have always been drawn to something that's open to being anything. When I got my chance to try out Hummingbird, for example, which was the first thing I tried with creative robotics, I liked it because Hummingbird can be anything. You can use it to build a robot that rolls around on the ground, or as a mathematics lesson (which I have on many occasions), or as a supplement to an ELA project. It can be whatever you want it to be, and when that bridged into the micro:bit for me, it was my next step. The micro:bit is a tiny pocket size computer that can be anything you want. As a teacher that's what I want. I want the tool that is everything. I want a tool that is equitable. I want the tool that meets my students' needs. It's fun to have other robotics tools, other Ed Tech things, but if it doesn't have that Swiss-Army-knife-kind of feel to it, usually it falls off the sidelines for me. I will play with it and enjoy it, but it won't be a sustaining part of my curriculum. Whereas Hummingbird or a micro:bit or even other tools are sustaining parts.

AL: What are you looking forward to this summer?

AJS: I'm moving to Pittsburgh! I am really excited. It's a very big move for me. I've always lived in the same general area of Philadelphia, so moving to Pittsburgh is huge. It's a whole new city. Pittsburgh is [...] quirky and beautiful. I'm excited to be in the new CodeJoy studio as well. I'm excited to bring my dogs to work every day. There's a lot to look forward to.

AL: What are your thoughts on Environmental Literacy and its importance in schools and curriculum?

AJS: Our world is in a bit of trouble. It's been in trouble for a while. In human nature, it takes a while for people to really clue in. One of the things that we do in education, that I don't know if people pay attention to often, but I think it's really big and important, is educators see what's happening in the world and bring it into their classrooms for the younger generations to grapple with. This way, they can be the new changemakers. I think that there's a presence to it and many educators are thinking about it right now. It obviously is important in the world at this moment in time, and will continue to be important in the world. 

AL: Can you give us a preview to something we will be learning about in your course, Micro:bit in the Garden?

AJS: We are going to take some of the classic things the micro:bit can do and we are going to make them accessible anywhere that a teacher or student is. We will make them accessible in really applicable ways. For example, you can put your micro:bit in the dirt. That is very exciting! That's something I don't think a lot of people do innately when they get these kinds of tools. Our goal is to take your micro:bit out the door, do the thing coded inside, and then do something with the data. I'm hoping this course really propels a lot of teachers to feel empowered to take their kids outside and use the microbit in real scientific ways.

AL: Last thoughts?

AJS: These Infosys Foundation USA Summer Pathfinders courses are the best opportunity for all [public] educators across the United States. It is set up to succeed every single time and even if you didn't choose our course with EarthDwellers, there are still all of these other courses you could choose from. They're all flexible in their own ways and they all have experts from Ed Tech industries. Not only should you, as a teacher, go, but you should invite all of your friends to go with you and you should share it out with your networks. It is a fantastic opportunity for a great PD, free stuff, flexible schedule, what could be better?

We are absolutely thrilled to have Amanda Jeane back on the screen, but even more so, to welcome her to her full-time status with us as Director of Learning starting this summer! Her unstoppable energy, enthusiasm, and expertise is contagious and we can’t wait to see it resonate with our team and educators alike. This Micro:bit in the Garden course is set to be a one-of-a-kind learning experience, tailor-made for bringing environmental literacy and technology together in classrooms across the country. Register for Micro:bit in the Garden before June 19th!

You can catch up with Amanda Jeane at her website and at her socials:





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