Alaska’s PK-12 school system is embracing the teaching of computer science like never before. Educators across the state, and their students, have recognized that navigating the digital world is not just about being a consumer of digital content, it’s about the skills needed to create that content. And to become a creator means knowing the building blocks of how digital content is made using computer science.
Being a creator means that your individual insights and perspectives on the world can be represented and celebrated. Alaskan students experience the world through languages, cultures, climates, and geography that exist nowhere else. To ensure the digital landscape includes space for these unique perspectives, Alaskan students need to be equipped with the right knowledge to meaningfully share what they know and impact how digital spaces represent them. And because we know that Alaska Natives, women, and other people of color are historically underrepresented in the field of computer science, it is critical that we focus our efforts on giving those groups the skills needed to succeed in the digital future.
As schools look to re-engage their students following a year of online learning, the Alaska Academic Decathlon for high school students and Pentathlon for students in middle school offers small group learning opportunities that extend beyond the boundaries of the classroom.
During the first week of June 2021, over 180 education leaders from 31 school districts across Alaska came together virtually for the 13th annual Alaska School Leadership Institute (ASLI). Designed as an opportunity for Alaska’s rural school leaders to connect, reflect and plan for the next school year, the 2021 ASLI hosted a dynamic lineup of nationally and internationally recognized speakers that challenged conference attendees to reflect on the experience of leading through the pandemic and to plan for the next school year in a way that embraces lessons learned. The ASLI conference is organized each year by the Alaska Staff Development Network (ASDN). Continue reading ‘The 2021 Alaska School Leadership Institute (ASLI)’ by Sam Jordan at ASDN
This spring in Denali Borough School District, we collectively engaged in supporting our students to share their learning through a specific student-engaged assessment strategy called Celebrations of Learning. Celebrations of Learning invite students to publicly engage and assess their learning experiences through reflection. We saw enhanced student engagement when our students were able to reflect on and take the lead of their work. Taking ownership of these experiences encouraged insight, self-assessment, and complex learning, and was especially nurtured when our students wondered about their learning publicly with others. Making learning public became an authentic purpose that empowered and motivated our students to care about the quality of their work.
Celebrations of Learning is a community event that nurtures classroom-based learning experiences that ensure that students are fully empowered in the process of understanding themselves as learners. Students presented high-quality products and performances that were often modeled after real-world formats and intended for audiences beyond the classroom. The ultimate intent of Celebrations of Learning was to invite students to reflect on and articulate what they have learned, questions they answered, research they conducted, and areas of strength and struggle in order to understand and take ownership of their own growth as learners.
In a school year when many districts are struggling to cover the basics, Bering Strait School District has been busy building young scientists. For more than 20 years, BSSD has held a districtwide science fair, come snow or sleet or global pandemic. This year, amid closures all over the state, BSSD decided the show must go on – on line – with a virtual district fair that allowed student-scientists to present to judges remotely from their own schools.
As Alaskans know, living in remote areas under harsh winter conditions can be challenging. Add in the fears, restrictions and isolation of a pandemic, and life can be downright overwhelming. In response to those shared challenges, staff at North Slope Borough School District (NSBSD) started a ‘Messages of Hope’ campaign asking students to draw and share what hope means to them.
Nenana City School is a sub-grantee of Alaska’s Comprehensive Literacy Development Grant award. Part of our many initiatives to support and promote literacy in our student body has been the implementation of a quarterly book distribution. The idea is simple: Each student enrolled in our K-12 school receives a book each quarter. So far we have had a 100% participation rate in our student body, from Kindergarten to high school Seniors.
Depending on the grade level and students’ background, teachers have been consulting with students on their book of choice. However, the primary goal of this initiative is to promote leisure reading in students, and therefore students have the ultimate say in what it is they receive for their book distribution. One elementary teacher shared, “My students look forward to the book distribution every quarter and they have even started choosing the same books to read together!”
I never could have predicted that my teaching life would include arranging demonstrations involving marine mammals and holding my students inside because of polar bear warnings, but that’s exactly what happened.
For the Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD), staying local isn’t just a mandate during the pandemic — it’s a long term strategy for learning. Recognizing the need for language resources to boost proficiency in the Yup’ik language, as well as a desire for curriculum that students could relate to, the LKSD administration embarked on a multi-year project to create K-12 social studies and science curriculum that addresses both these needs.
For our 100th blog post, the Our Alaskan Schools blog is excited to host a story writtenentirely by a team of 6th grade students from the Wrangell Public Schools. We are excited for this opportunity to share the exciting learning experiences happening in Wrangell from the perspective of these amazing student-journalists!
This year, the sixth grade class of the Stikine Middle School in Wrangell, Alaska presented at ASTE. ASTE is a technology conference that happens every year in February where people come from all over Alaska, and sometimes from all over the U.S., to watch presentations and present to others. ASTE stands for the “Alaska Society for Technology in Education.”