In 2006, former Annette Island School District Superintendent Brett Agenbroad had a vision to offer Metlakatla High School students an opportunity to gain industry experience in diving by providing a scuba program.
Place-based education is a philosophy that utilizes the context of student knowledge – culture, location, nature, and history – to connect to curricular and core content within the classroom. Despite numerous articles and studies on the merits of land-based and place-based education in rural Alaska, there is little information regarding a connection between the culture and ecology of this culturally rich land with a substantial computer science curriculum. One can find math modules, art and music units, and ELA lessons that attach to Alaska Native culture through a simple web search, but Computer Science has remained a subject that is primarily in the classroom and focused on materials that do not necessarily connect with the students’ lives outside of school. Continue reading ‘Developing A Place-Based Computer Science Curriculum’ by YKSD Teacher Andrew Bellamy
At the recent 2022 CSEdCon Global CS Education Conference, the Alaska Staff Development Network (ASDN) accepted an award for ‘overcoming the odds’ from Code.org, the international leader in computer science education. ASDN is a division of the education non-profit Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA). For the past four years, ASDN has served as the Code.org Regional Partner for Alaska and worked to expand access to computer science education across the state by providing professional learning opportunities for K-12 educators and advocating for computer science education policy. To date, ASDN has provided computer science curriculum professional development to nearly 1,000 Alaskan educators in 44 of Alaska’s 54 school districts. Continue reading ‘ASDN Celebrates Code.org Award + Preparing for the 2022 Hour of Code’ by Sam Jordan
This spring I worked with the Global Nomads Group (GNG) to bring my KPBSD Distance Education science students an opportunity: The option to participate in a short video-based online course with other teenagers from around the world. As GNG describes it, “youth dig into issues they are passionate about, share their stories, and explore the stories of their global peers at their own pace.” Our students focused on the topics of Ocean Health and Sports, and ultimately created action plans to benefit their local and global communities. They lit up when many of their stories were added to the global repository for their international peers to learn from too! Continue reading ‘KPBSD Students Swap Valuable Stories with International Peers’ by Kim Leslie + Students
Have you ever heard of AAATTSA? Alaska Alexander Archipelago Tongass to Tidal Science Academy is a magnet program in the Port Alexander School within the Southeast Island School District. Six high school students from all over the nation flew to Sitka, Alaska, then took an adventurous float plane ride to remote Port Alexander to find themselves fully embracing nature in an off-grid community.
Travis Stagg, a physics teacher at West Valley High School in Fairbanks, became inspired to offer students the chance to become pilots by his own love of aviation. After taking a “discovery flight” as a gift from his wife, he went on to become a pilot and certified flight instructor himself.
During his aviation journey, he kept hearing about the need to engage more young learners in training for aviation careers. According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, “763,000 new pilots will be needed in the world by 2039, based on Boeing’s Pilot and Technician Outlook.” Ironically, the number of pilot certificates issued by the Federal Aviation Administration has decreased more than 60 percent since 1980.” (APOA) Stagg elaborates, “Report after report can be found online about the important role aviation plays in our state’s economy and that there is an increasing demand for qualified people to keep that industry healthy.” Continue reading ‘Students Prepare to Take Flight in Private Pilot Ground School Elective’ by Nicole Stellon O’Donnell
When more than 20 students joined Lower Kuskokwim School District’s new after school food sciences club this fall, expectations were low. The students, at school sites in Goodnews Bay, Tuntutuliak, and Kipnuk [currently on hold while in “red” Covid-19 status], expected to do a little cooking and a lot of listening to lectures about nutrition and kitchen safety. Instead, what they got was “an exploratory adventure going through cuisine” and so much more, according to Gear Up grant coordinator Alex Bernard.
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.