Students from Valparaiso’s Central Elementary took part in the school’s third annual Digital Learning Day. The nationwide day of digital celebration shows how effective teaching and great technology combine to have a positive impact on America’s schools. Grades 3-5 were taught the basics of Scratch - An Introduction to Coding, while grades K-2 worked to learn and make iMovies.
Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create interactive stories, games and animations, as well as share those creations with others on the web. It was developed at the MIT Media Lab by the Lifelong Kindergarten research group. MIT’s group develops new technologies that expand the spectrum of what people can design, create, and learn in the spirit of fingerpaints and building blocks at the Kindergarten level. The program is provided without cost and gives the kids an opportunity to think critically, creatively, and collaboratively.
“Over the past several years I have worked with elementary and middle school students teaching them the basics of Scratch,” Elizabeth Krutz of Central Elementary said. “In all that time I consistently see students get excited and can't wait to ask to have it on their home computers. I have had students stop me in the hallways to tell me about the cool game they created on their own at home. I've been sent greeting cards created using Scratch,” she added.
Cyndi Svilar, Instructional Technology Integration Specialist for the district, worked with Mr. Wallace’s 4th grade class.
“We’re building programming and you have to think of each little step along the way,” Svilar instructed and also stressed, “There’s no failure because you’re always learning something. There’s no wrong answer.”
The program is very inspiring to students and there’s no doubt that some of them will be doing similar programming in years the to come.
The program is very visual and allows students to manipulate sounds and images, create animations and and greeting cards, and tell stories. The program is free so anyone is able to give it a try.
In first grade and kindergarten classrooms students were taught how to use and create iMovies by their teachers, who were trained how to make iMovies this fall through Apple Education. Krutz added that, “many classrooms have been creating class iMovies and individual iMovies as part of a final assessment of certain areas of study. Tomorrow these classrooms will be making one classroom iMovie on a topic of their choice.”
Computer programming jobs and computer science degrees have grown immensely over the past few years and Digital Learning Day gives these kids a chance to get hands on and inspires them to investigate this technology further.