Alaskan Student Filmmakers Produce “Atmautluak, AK: Our Village Our Home”

Students in the Lower Kuskokwim School District village of Atmautluak, produced this film as part of the GEAR UP Program at the Joann A. Alexie Memorial School. GEAR UP in LKSD includes: drone pilot certification, filmmaking, culinary institutes, tutoring and college readiness activities. GEAR UP liaison, Jeffery Behelsich supported students as they scripted, planned, interviewed, flew drones, filmed, and edited this introduction to Atmautluak.

The Rural Alaska GEAR UP Partnership is a collaboration between Bering Strait School District, Lower Kuskokwim School District, the University of Alaska, Yuut Elitnaurviat and Alaska Staff Development Network (ASDN) designed to address the needs of students in 37 villages in western Alaska.

‘KPBSD Students Swap Valuable Stories with International Peers’ by Kim Leslie + Students

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

An Old Game Meets New Tech: Creating Connections During Remote Schooling by TJ O’Donnell, Pearl Creek School

In Fall 2020, faced with the challenge of conducting Pearl Creek Elementary’ s Extended Learning Program remotely, I turned to chess to help students connect with each other. As a longtime school chess club sponsor, I knew how much fun students had playing against each other, so I just needed to figure out a way for them to play online. I invited students to play using a copy of a shared google drawings template during Zoom sessions with ELP students enrolled in Fairbanks North Star Borough School District’s e-learning and BEST homeschool programs. I was happy to find that, even remotely, I was able to hop from game to game and give advice or settle disputes as they arose. 

A screenshot of chess game being played in Google Draw. Google Draw.
Pearl Creek Elementary students learned to play chess online with each other remote learning.

It worked! Students liked it so much that games sometimes extended beyond the ELP session. Students would often have more than one game active with different classmates. Some even started their own games by copying the template and sharing it with willing friends. Continue reading An Old Game Meets New Tech: Creating Connections During Remote Schooling by TJ O’Donnell, Pearl Creek School

‘Alaska’s Momentum in Teaching Computer Science: Looking Forward’ by Sam Jordan at ASDN 

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.  

Continue reading ‘Alaska’s Momentum in Teaching Computer Science: Looking Forward’ by Sam Jordan at ASDN 

‘Place-Based Mathematics in YKSD Leads to Deeper Understanding’ by Morris White

The Yukon-Koyukuk School District (YKSD) has sponsored a series of math activities during the 2020-2021 academic year which have been organized around creating place-based math activities for students in the district, as well as advancing teacher’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) 3 development as teachers of mathematics in multi-grade classrooms. The majority of teachers in YKSD are multi-subject educators who teach a variety of subjects, including math as part of their daily work in the classrooms.

The District’s math Specialist, Morris White, has coordinated the support for mathematics in YKSD during the 2020-2021 school year. Under Mr. White’s direction, and with the leadership of the District’s head of Teaching and Learning, Mr. Chane Beam, a series of place-based mathematics activities have been held at the majority of the district’s nine campuses.

Continue reading ‘Place-Based Mathematics in YKSD Leads to Deeper Understanding’ by Morris White

‘Curiosity and Learning Through Global Virtual Connections’ by Sam Jordan @ASDN

This week, educators from across the world, including here in Alaska, are participating in a unique educational event called the Global Learning Connection 2020. Sponsored by Microsoft’s educational program Skype in the Classroom, this event leverages the communication apps Skype, Microsoft Teams and Flipgrid to create live and asynchronous connections for students around the world to meet with peer in other state or countries, or with guest content experts. The whole event is aimed at making it possible for students to travel the world virtually and make meaningful connections to people, cultures and information that would not be available to them in any other way, especially during the global pandemic.

Continue reading ‘Curiosity and Learning Through Global Virtual Connections’ by Sam Jordan @ASDN

‘Advancing College Success with Upward Bound in Alaska’ by Adam Low at UAF

The University of Alaska Fairbanks campus has been home to Alaska’s Upward Bound (UB) program for over 52 years. The federally grant-funded Upward Bound project reaches across the state to assist first-generation-to-college students in small, rural high schools. The program strives to increase the number of high school graduates who continue on to enter universities and colleges.

Continue reading ‘Advancing College Success with Upward Bound in Alaska’ by Adam Low at UAF

‘Fifty Years of Sea Week in Juneau and Alaska’ by Peggy Cowan

It is a rare educational innovation that both endures and remains relevant for 50 years. Ask any person under 55 years old from Juneau about their elementary school memories and they will say, “Sea Week.” At first it was called Sea Week, but it grew exponentially to Sea Month. Sea Week is a Juneau school and community success story.

Continue reading ‘Fifty Years of Sea Week in Juneau and Alaska’ by Peggy Cowan

‘Inspiring a Passion for STEM on the Western Edge of Alaska: The GEAR UP Program in BSSD’ by Sam Jordan at ASDN

The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) initiative is one of the largest national programs for increasing the college and career readiness of low-income students in the U.S. Focused on middle and high school students, GEAR UP helps empower local partnerships comprised of K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, state agencies, and community organizations to achieve three strategic goals: (1) increasing the postsecondary expectations and readiness of students; (2) improving high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment rates; and (3) raising the knowledge of postsecondary options, preparation, and financing among students and families.

The Rural Alaska GEAR UP Partnership serves students in Alaska’s two largest rural school districts; Bering Strait (BSSD) and Lower Kuskokwim (LKSD) in western Alaska. The partnership is supported by the Alaska Staff Development Network (ASDN). ASDN’s founder Kelly Tonsmeire serves as the Rural Alaska GEAR UP Partnership Project Director.

Bering Strait School District sits on the western edge of Alaska.

The Bering Strait School District (BSSD) serves 15 village communities, the majority of which are only accessible by plane or, in the case of Diomede, by helicopter. The district is geographically one of the largest in the United States, encompassing an area of 80,000 square miles. BSSD’s GEAR UP program serves a cohort of 556 students in grades 6-9 and prides itself that their program is highly responsive the needs and ambitions of its students. Continue reading ‘Inspiring a Passion for STEM on the Western Edge of Alaska: The GEAR UP Program in BSSD’ by Sam Jordan at ASDN

‘Preparing for College And Flying Drones: The Gear Up Program in LKSD’ by Sam Jordan at ASDN

The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) initiative is one of the largest national programs focused on increasing the college and career readiness of low-income students in the U.S.

Focused on middle and high school students, GEAR UP helps empower local partnerships comprised of K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, state agencies, and community organizations to achieve three strategic goals:

  • (1) increasing the postsecondary expectations and readiness of students;
  • (2) improving high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment rates; and
  • (3) raising the knowledge of postsecondary options, preparation, and financing among students and families.

The Rural Alaska GEAR UP Partnership serves students in the state’s two largest rural school districts, Lower Kuskokwim (LKSD) and Bering Strait (BSSD) in western Alaska. The partnership is supported by the Alaska Staff Development Network (ASDN). ASDN’s founder Kelly Tonsmeire serves as the Rural Alaska GEAR UP Partnership Project Director. Continue reading ‘Preparing for College And Flying Drones: The Gear Up Program in LKSD’ by Sam Jordan at ASDN