How to create your own elementary school tech curriculum
Because Mississippi doesn’t offer an elementary school technology curriculum, STEM-focused educators at Madison County Schools developed their own computer science program.
The goal was to get students comfortable with computers as early as possible to jumpstart their acquisition of skills needed for the future of work, says Nashandra James, the district’s instructional technology coordinator.
The learning also provides the foundation for computer science and STEM classes in middle school, James says.
“We had to bridge that gap,” James says. “We had to make sure they can keep up when they make the transition.”
Elementary school students start with basics such as keyboarding, drag-and-drop functions, managing files in the cloud, and creating spreadsheets and presentations.
“It’s amazing to see little kids learn the difference between ‘save’ and ‘save as,’ or to teach them about QR codes so a first grader knows how to get information if they go into a store.”
In later elementary grades, students learn how to use the internet for research and using platforms such as Microsoft 365 to collaborate on projects. This teamwork begins developing students’ communication and collaboration skills.
Creating a computer science program
The tech program was designed by a team of instructional and content specialists who studied the curricula and grade-level learning standards designed by other K-12 districts.
The team then created lessons and a pacing guide and integrated into the curriculum to make it easy for teachers to follow.
The district also prioritizes digital equity with what it calls a “one-to-many” program. The “many,” however, does not reflect the number of devices available to students, as all have access to a computer, laptop or tablet.
Kindergartners and first-graders use iPads, while all older elementary school students are each assigned a Chromebook.
“We didn’t want to teach our students on just one platform,” James says.
Madison County administrators are also now determining how to provide uninterrupted computer instruction as they also implement safety measures to stem the spread of COVID.
“We’re looking at bringing the computer labs into the classrooms so students don’t have to move,” shew says. “They can work on any platform.”
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