Friday, January 20, 2017

Curriculum, Literacy(ies), and Coding

Hello, parents, guardians, students, and family members,

Well, we're gearing toward the final week of January and things are hoppin' at Warner Enhanced Option Elementary School. We lost a week of lab exploration to a week (+) of testing online for our 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders. We only did the online math test, not the online reading one, but by and large our kids did well. Many are struggling in math, and there are a few "I can't do this" attitudes, but we are systematically working to overcome those issues and embed a Can Do attitude into our students' lives. I even have a reminder on my door:
I can!

We will be rolling out implementation of a highly respected computer lab curriculum in early February. The program, called "Structured Learning," is amazingly well-constructed. This will be new to me as I'm well-versed in making it up as I go, a week or weeks at a pop. I do have a respect for the standards (excepting that they are "standard," but I have preferred over the years to work to create a fun, valuable, and exploratory computer lab environment where kids can exercise their curiosity and decision making without all that much "structure." I feel I've been pretty successful at that. However, in this day and age of standardized tests and Common Core, I understand the need to work in a structured way. Engaging students in the more formal way the SL curriculum requires will also build a strong legacy of expectations and performance in the computer lab, a good thing for that day I decide to retire and move away from full-time teaching. Let's do it!

Meanwhile, as I dive into understanding and planning the rest of the year, I have K-2 students all walking their avatars along their own "Learning Paths" in the wonderful ABCMouse, I posted a few weeks ago about this marvelous program, and I want to remind you that if you want to follow along as your child learns, email me at and I'll send you a code to use for your child to work at home or at the library. It's fun!

3rd and 4th graders are plowing into the challenging work of computer coding, using the free version of If they want to work at home on that, they only need their login for Tynker, and you can call me and leave a message at 615576-0252 for that. I think most will actually know the login in a week or two after class sessions of using it.

Why teach coding? Think of this: In China every student learns computer coding. In the U.S., only 5% of schools include it in the curriculum. By 2020, there will be a need for over 440 million computer programmers in every walk of work. At the rate we are turning out qualified, capable coders, there will only be around 120 million of them. If we are lucky. Need more convincing? Watch this, and have a great week:

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