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.
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.
Computer Science Education Week (#CSEdWeek) “is an annual call to action to inspire K-12 students to learn computer science, advocate for equity in computer science education, and celebrate the contributions of students, teachers, and partners to the field” (https://www.csedweek.org/). This year’s #CSEdWeek is focused on the intersection of computer science and social justice, and raising up diverse voices in technology.
“We love kids. We love books. We love to serve.” This was a recent consensus made by the combined library staff in Fairbanks North Star Borough School District as to why we work in a school library. And that, my friends, is why K-12 school libraries are important. Kids need love. Kids need books. Kids need help.
During the noon hour of April 25, 2019, the Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA) and the Alaska Staff Development Network (ASDN) held a ‘Snack and Study’ event at the Alaska Capitol Building about the importance of computer science in Alaska’s Schools. Sponsored by Representative Harriet Drummond and Representative Andi Story, the event presented basic information about computer science, discussed why it represents a new literacy in the education curriculum, and how it can help fill existing jobs and define new ones in the Alaskan economy. Continue reading ‘ACSA/ASDN Present ‘Snack and Study’ Event on Computer Science at the Alaska Capitol’ by Sam Jordan at ASDN
34 years ago, in the small Southeast Alaska coastal town of Yakutat, Darin Bremner, then a high school student, was involved in an accident at school. During a home construction class, a saw slipped and cut off his hand. Efforts by doctors to reattach the hand were unsuccessful. Darin says that the accident has impacted everything. “You can feel it when people notice your difference – they stare or look away. I’ve used prosthetics with hooks for years but had always dreamed of having a more functional hand.” Continue reading Yakutat Students Create a 3D Printed Hand for Community Member by Sam Jordan at ASDN