‘US News & World Report Recognizes Alaskan Middle Schools’ by the Staff at ACSA

Annually U.S News and World Report releases rankings for the best high schools in the country. This past October, the publication released its first rankings of public middle schools in each state, with 62 Alaska middle schools receiving recognition.

Unlike the high school list, there aren’t national rankings for middle school. The rankings for this list are done by state, based on academic performance in math, reading, and language arts state assessments. Continue reading ‘US News & World Report Recognizes Alaskan Middle Schools’ by the Staff at ACSA

‘Students Prepare to Take Flight in Private Pilot Ground School Elective’ by Nicole Stellon O’Donnell

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. 

Fairbanks International Airport

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.” (APOAStagg 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

‘The 2022 Alaska RTI/MTSS Effective Instruction Conference’ by the Staff at ACSA/ASDN

Alaska’s teachers are some of the most devoted professionals in the country. Almost 1,000 educators from across the state of Alaska chose to spend two or three weekend days in January learning, collaborating, and reinvigorating their practice at the RTI/MTSS Effective Instruction Conference 2022 (and RTI Rural Schools Pre-Conference).  

 What educators took away from the conference was tremendous, and what we heard from them was worth sharing out.  Continue reading ‘The 2022 Alaska RTI/MTSS Effective Instruction Conference’ by the Staff at ACSA/ASDN

‘Growing Everyday Leaders at Colony Middle School’ by Lindsay Jack and the CMS Leadership Classes

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” -Nelson Mandela

This quote was chosen by a Colony Middle School Leadership student to begin their final speech and perfectly sums up the goal of leadership. Leadership class is not a new idea in schools, but it is a new addition at Colony Middle School this year and students reaped the benefits. In this class, students learned how to be the best version of themselves in order to be everyday leaders in their school and community.

Continue reading ‘Growing Everyday Leaders at Colony Middle School’ by Lindsay Jack and the CMS Leadership Classes

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

‘Cooking Up Life Experience in Southwest Alaskan Schools’ by ASDN Staff

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.

“Students learn about everything from chemistry and nutrition to time management and cultural traditions.”

Continue reading ‘Cooking Up Life Experience in Southwest Alaskan Schools’ by ASDN Staff

‘Being Proactive in Digital Citizenship’ by Sue Thotz at Common Sense Education

Imagine this: It’s Monday morning. Over the weekend, one of your students, Gabe, challenged his classmates to post sexual images as a dare. Ana responded by posting an image of a faceless nude female to a group chat of 5 kids. The parent of a recipient in the group chat is calling the office looking for a response. What are you going to say?

I often use scenarios like this in workshops I facilitate for teachers demonstrating the need to proactively plan and implement a positive digital culture instead of just being reactive. Educators commonly respond to this scenario by stating they would talk to the students, call the families, involve counselors, and/or notify administrators. Some say they would involve law enforcement. When asked how long it will take to contain the drama and repair the impact of the student actions, nearly all raise eyebrows and shake their heads. 

Continue reading ‘Being Proactive in Digital Citizenship’ by Sue Thotz at Common Sense Education

‘Renewing Classroom Technology In Remote Alaska’ by Dominique Johnson at ACSA

Offering technology in classrooms has given students and teachers new tools to help them learn in the classroom setting and has helped keep students and teachers connected during the pandemic.

One crucial element to using technology in the classroom is having up to date tech and operating systems. Unfortunately, one roadblock school districts face is how to recycle their used and outdated tech. And if your district is in rural Alaska with limited shipping options, repurposing outdated iPads or laptops can be more challenging.

Nome, Alaska is located on the southern Seward Peninsula coast on Norton Sound of the Bering Sea.

This was a challenge that the Nome School District faced. After years of planning, the district achieved its goal of a 1:1 digital learning environment this year. The district uses a mix of iPads and Chromebooks for almost 700 students. Continue reading ‘Renewing Classroom Technology In Remote Alaska’ by Dominique Johnson at ACSA

‘Fronteras Spanish Immersion Charter School Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month’ by Principal Jennifer Schmidt-Hutchins

In September and October of each school year, Fronteras Spanish Immersion Charter School students and staff research, study, and present the history, culture, and contributions of our ancestors from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. President Lyndon B. Johnson introduced this observation in 1968. It was expanded to a 30-day period by President Ronald Reagan starting September 15th and concluding October 15th.

Fronteras Charter School students celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month each year in September and October.

Continue reading ‘Fronteras Spanish Immersion Charter School Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month’ by Principal Jennifer Schmidt-Hutchins