Jeffco Ed Tech welcomes Guest Bloggers: Janna Golgart and Doug Starkey, from Dunstan Middle School.
At Dunstan Middle School, the computer science department is composed of Janna Golgart and Doug Starkey. Together these two teachers cover a very wide range of computer science material in order to prepare students for high school and beyond.
In Janna Golgart’s Computer Science courses students begin by learning the basics of encryption, decryption, using cyphers, as well as learning the basics of binary. From there students progress to block based programming and then on to Python text language. CodeCombat is a wonderful resource for Janna's students to begin Python with, and then advance to CodeHS. CodeHS reinforces and is more challenging which strengthens students’ Python skills. Ms. Golgart's Computer Science course also gives students the opportunity to explore robotics using Spheros. Students learn how to program the Sphero, then create a maze and program the robots to complete the maze. In addition, students learn about physical computing using Raspberry Pi’s and create circuits. This class gives students a strong foundation of computer science.
Video Game Design
In Mrs. Golgart’s Video Design course, students learn the basics of video game design programming and graphic design. Students then use several different software applications such as GameMaker, Scratch, Agentsheets, and Agentcubes to apply their programming and graphic design skills, seeing how the concepts and execution transfer from program to program. In addition, students learn and create animations which is a key part of video game design. Animator and GameMaker are both used to create these animations. This course provides students the opportunity to display their creativity.
Mr. Starkey also has a separate Robotics course, in which students alternate between an online robotic simulator, Microbit robots, and Lego EV3 robots. The online simulator is through RobomindAcademy.com. This site introduces students to the basics of robotics through script based programming. The Microbit unit combines Makerspace with programming. Students are given the opportunity to create a cardboard robot combining Microbit motors & control boards, then programming the robots to participate in a drag race against other students. The Microbit robots provide a great resource for students to learn different block based programming as well as put some creativity into their robots. The majority of the class, however, is based around the Lego EV3 robots. Students begin with basic movements, then progress to the different sensors available. Students program the EV3 with block code and use the EV3s to complete several different types of obstacle courses.
Mrs. Golgart and Mr. Starkey have also participated in several industry related field trips and guest speakers. These include a trip to the Boulder Google campus & Dire Wolf Digital as well as guest speakers from Colorado School Mines, CodeHS, and Amazon Web Services. Janna Golgart and Doug Starkey have dedicated a lot of time and effort into making a strong and respected Computer Science program at Dunstan Middle School.
Thank you for sharing your program with Jeffco teachers and the Ed Tech Team!
*Please see the Jeffco Approved Digital Tools page for approved status of tools mentioned above.
Did you know that April is National School Library Month? 30 days to celebrate the staff & collection of resources that come together to support schools.
Most Jeffco schools are supported by a digital teacher librarian (DTL). DTLs are teacher leaders, who collaborate and co-teach with fellow teachers. The focus in these collaborations is supporting student learning within the curriculum while authentically integrating technology and information literacy skills. DTLs also work to create a library space that is an inviting hub of the school with a well curated library collection that promotes a love of literacy.
Be sure to stop in and say "Hi!" to your Digital Teacher Librarian, they would love to see you!
In previous blog posts we shared the partnership with JCPL and the Community Shares ebook collection that is accessible through Destiny Discover. We also shared an update on the State Libraries grant and how all elementary students now have access to PebbleGo Science, while middle school and high school students each have access to an interactive ebook collection purchased for their school (with a print copy for their school libraries).
And as of March 24th, students and staff now have ease of access to a curated collection of audiobooks through our Community Shares partnership with Jefferson County Public Library. These audiobooks are accessible on our Destiny Discover library platform. To learn more about accessing the audiobooks on Destiny Discover, please talk with your school's Digital Teacher Librarian.
Benefits of audiobooks
We Are Teachers, 7 Ways Audiobooks Benefit Students Who Struggle with Reading
From author Jon Scieszka (2008)
‘In my Guys Read work, I’ve met all kinds of boys who are crazy for audiobooks. I think it’s partially because audiobooks appeal to a lot of guys’ love for messing around with any kind of technology. … Guys also think they are getting away with something by listening instead of reading. We don’t have to tell them that they are learning vocabulary, story structure, sentence composition, and a dozen other literacy skills.’
Opportunities AudioBooks provide:
For further reading, from the National Literacy Trust, Audiobooks and Literacy: A Rapid Review of the Literature
Screencastify and Google Slides
"App Smashing", the act of using more than one digital tool at the same time for a student product, can yield creative results. This blog outlines how to "smash" Screencastify and Google Slides for student reflection.
From the blog:
In her article Digital Portfolios: The Art of Reflection, Beth Holland points out that when students reflect on their learning experiences, “they become more aware of the processes and strategies that make them successful, allowing them to learn from their successes as well as their challenges or failures.” Thus, a reflection journal that also includes video screencasts not only provides students with the opportunity to look back and reflect on their work, but also facilitates a media-rich experience for doing so.
Fortunately, Google Slides offers two great features — the ability to easily create links to outside content and the ability to play YouTube videos in a slide — that can be combined with screencasts to enable students from elementary school through high school to create powerful video reflection journals in just a few steps.
In all, students could create a media-rich screencast after writing an essay, creating a presentation, constructing a drawing, or creating any type of artifact of learning and reflect on their learning using audio and video. In their reflection, they could discuss their process of creation, their feelings of success, or explore the challenges they experienced along the way.
Some reflection questions students might discuss are:
Is this my best work?
What could I have done to improve this essay?
Why was I successful when I created this presentation?
What will I do differently next time to augment the process?
What did I learn?
How did I learn?
Why do I think that I learned the way that I learned?