By Brad Mosher
When the students switch from a five-day school week to four days at Halliday Elementary in December, they may notice some distinct advantages to the new schedule.
Sharon Musick is the IT/Computers/STEM/SPED guru for the school, according to District Superintendent Tony Duletski.
It is in the realm of working with technology that the students will have a big opportunity with the new schedule, Musick explained.
“When you look at the calendar, the days that we are going to be off are the days when we are going to have our project based learning,” Musick said, as she unpacked some of the new technology the students will find waiting for them when school starts again in mid-August.
“So, the kids could still come to school five days,” she explained.
“These are the days we would actually have activities. We would actually have electronics and engineering together,” she said, continuing to unpack the electronic building blocks for the learning projects when school starts.
“We are super excited (about the change to a hybrid schedule). We want the kids to do what we call high-order thinking. We want to expose them to this to help them decide careers that they might be interested in,” she said.
The faculty and district is looking at the curriculum as a way to prepared the students for future jobs, she explained.
The district has chosen a curriculum available through the state, she said.
The curriculum also goes all the way up to the high school level.
“Each year, it will build (on itself),” she explained. “It starts them at Grade 2.”
The students will be getting all the materials together in the classes and have to find the solutions, according to Musick.
“There may be different solutions so they have to choose a solution.
“Then, they’ll have to build a prototype, go test it and then they have to come back and say if it did or didn’t work,” Musick explained.
“And if it did work, how could we improve it. We are starting at age seven, teaching them this (method) and engineering process.
From the first stage, the students will proceed, going to using microbit technology and then to developing simple robots, the school’s technology teacher explained.
Previously, the school didn’t have the technology, she said. “When I came, I said Oh my gosh, they’ll need this when they get to seventh grade.”
That way, the students could join the robotics team when they go to Killdeer for the seventh grade.
The technology curriculum is part of STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), the STREAM coordinator explained.
“We try to have days right before the holidays so they are very energetic and we try to something fun,” Musick said.
Already Musick has gotten her students invlved in designing bridges and a classroom project.
One of the plans is for implementing a robotics-based curriculum, according to the superintendent.
“This concept has inspired the fast-growing maker movement which is a trend for do-it-yourself activities for children that involve learning, building and experimentation,” he said.
“Such a curriculum allows for integrating the teaching and learning of math, science, technology and engineering through robotics,” he added.
(Second in a series)