CLINTON — Eastside Elementary makes it a priority to teach students about safety and responsibility online.
“We cover digital citizenship all year,” said fifth-grade computer science teacher Jana Chao.
Because of this focus, Eastside was recently named a Digital Citizenship Certified School by the national nonprofit organization Common Sense Education.
“Eastside Elementary has demonstrated its commitment to taking a whole-community approach to preparing its students to use the immense power of digital media to explore, create, connect and learn, while limiting the perils that exist in the online realm, such as plagiarism, loss of privacy and cyber bullying,” stated the announcement from Common Sense.
Eastside uses resources from Common Sense to teach digital citizenship. The curriculum was created in collaboration with Dr. Howard Gardner of the GoodPlay Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
It teaches students, faculty and parents tangible skills related to Internet safety, protecting online reputations and personal privacy, managing online relationships, and respecting creative copyright. The free resources are used in more than 90,000 classrooms nationwide.
Eastside received a badge to display on its Web site announcing the certification, and will be recognized on the Common Sense Education Web site.
Coding and Computer Science
All fifth-graders at Eastside take computer science, using a curriculum that gets more challenging as the school year progresses.
“Students started the year focusing on basic use of the MacBook since this is their first year with them,” said Principal Cindy Hamil. “Then teachers quickly introduced typing and then digital citizenship, which we will cover all year.”
Students have also been using productivity software for project-based learning, coinciding with concepts and units taught in other subject areas. After this, they move to block coding.
“Now students are able to take the concept of block coding to our robots, Dot and Dash, and they are learning all about what Dot and Dash can do,” she said. “After Christmas, teachers are planning to have students move into completing challenges with the robots and creating projects with block coding. Computer science teachers hope to have students introduced to learning Java and/or HTML by the end of the school year.”
Eastside uses the code.org curriculum for coding and computer science. Students also learn typing in this course.
Hamil said the course teaches critical thinking and problem solving, skills that are useful in all areas of life.
“Coding requires students to solve puzzles that present various challenges,” she said. “Students must determine which commands should be used to progress through the task and complete it successfully. The big picture must be seen, but students also must see each individual step, since coding requires step-by-step instructions as algorithms to complete the tasks.”
Students express thoughts through coding so the computer can read and carry out the tasks given. Each puzzle requires problem solving, and when puzzles are not completed the first time, students must practice patience and continued problem solving to find the error and fix it.
Eastside students are preparing now for the Hour of Code, coinciding with National Computer Science Education Week, Dec. 5-11. This will include fifth-graders teaching fourth-graders the basics of coding, and other activities throughout the week.