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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
James T. Hutchison High School or ‘Hutch’ as we affectionately call it, is a Career and Technical Education (CTE) school of choice within the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. We enroll approximately 100 students per grade, 9th-12th grade. In addition to our core 400 students, there are 164 students from across the district that attend classes at Hutch on a part-time basis.
Hutch provides an integrated learning environment within a culturally diverse community, where academic and career-technical experiences encourage a life-long love of learning, personal integrity, civic mindedness and preparation for successful post-school employment.
The Our Alaskan Schools blog is excited to host our second student blog post. This post comes to us from four middle school/high school students at Rampart School in the Yukon-Koyukuk School District. We are excited for this opportunity to share the exciting things happening in Rampart from the perspective of these amazing student-journalists!