Washington School Seventh- And Eighth-Graders Learn More About Information Literacy And Computers

Washington Middle School eighth-grader, Travon Blakeslee, works on computer coding during Stacy Brand’s Information Literary & Computers class.

“How are you trying to solve the problem?” asked Washington Middle School Library Media Specialist Stacy Brand. “How many blocks can you move?”

“I can move five spaces,” said the student.

“Remember, you can only use the repeat block. So you have to code in five spaces, no turns, using the repeat block.”

Mrs. Brand helped Washington eighth graders learn to computer code and program during their Information Literacy and Computer class. Through Computer Science Discoveries (CSD), students were using Code.org and a program called Blockly, which teaches students how to use computer coding and programming to create their own on-line games. CSD, a free course, covers computer science topics such as programming, physical computing, HTM/CSS and devices.

“Part of this class is teaching students to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills so we added the computer coding and programming element to the class hoping it would be something different and engaging for the students,” said Mrs. Brand. “We also wanted to introduce more STEM into our curriculum to give students exposure to these areas as potential careers or to have the ability to do elementary coding and programming at the college level. But most importantly, it enhances student’s problem-solving skills and resiliency.”

Computer programming and coding is just one of the areas Mrs. Brand teaches eighth graders during the 13-week special area class. Along with improving keyboarding skills, students also use checkology.org where they learn how to navigate the challenging information landscape by mastering the skills of news literacy. The lessons help teachers equip their students with the tools to evaluate and interpret the news and learn how to determine what news and information to trust, share and act on. Leading journalists, along with First Amendment and digital media experts, guide students through the platform’s interactive multimedia lessons. These ?-learning experiences use real-world examples of news and information that test students’ emerging skills and lead them to mastery, which builds skills that are crucial to ensure students can navigate the endless information they are confronted with daily.