Bringing a New Discipline on Board

by Beth Knittle on December 30, 2017

In June of 2016 Massachusetts approved a new curriculum Digital Literacy and Computer Science, and shortly the new 5-12 teaching license in DL & CS will be available. I am not sure if I have wrapped my head around the real implications of these new standards. Schools have not added a new discipline to the K-12 curriculum in centuries. People tend to focus on the computer science aspect of the curriculum but it is Digital Literacy and Computer Science in fact the DL standards out number the CS.

If you take a look at the DESE STEM website DL & CS is on par with Mathematics and Science. A closer look at the frameworks themselves reveals the importance placed on these standards not at all the same as the 2008 Technology Literacy Standards they replaced.

For Example:

In Dr Chester’s forward he writes, “… the ability to effectively use and manipulate technology to solve complex problems is the new literacy …”

“…digital literacy and computer science programs should provide the necessary interventions and support for those student who are below or above grade-level expectations.” (p 4)

“To facilitate planning, a district coordinator or administrator should be involved in articulating, coordinating, and implementing a district wide (K-12) DLCS curriculum.” “ … middle and high school course be taught by teachers who are certified…” (p. 6)

This framework is not an after thought or ‘would be nice’; it is a new content area a discipline which needs to be added to an already full K-12 educational structure. Many of the standards K-5 can be readily integrated into existing curriculum. But teachers who have not been formally exposed to these areas need support and resources to implement them. Once you reach the depth of knowledge required at the 5-12 grade levels fewer standards can be added to existing curriculum and standalone classes will need to be developed, staffed and offered to students.

How do school districts do this in an effective and efficient way? This is clearly an addition not a replacement for an existing area of instruction. I am very glad to see the standards created and recognized for their importance in modern education. I am just a little overwhelmed at the task at hand yet very excited to see what DL & CS education looks like in Massachusetts in the coming year.


The T in STEM

by Beth Knittle on November 12, 2017

A couple of weeks ago the New York Times had article Where the STEM jobs Are (and Where They Aren’t).  As a former science teacher and now a technology specialist I am acutely aware the difference between the S in STEM and the T.  Even the T takes on multiple meanings.  Engineering technology and Computer Science related technology. I have noticed as many grants come out to support STEM and schools announce their renewed focus on STEM there is not much being done about adding new computer science and information technology into the curriculum.  Schools enhance existing science,  engineering/technology classes or add resources to maker spaces.  Don’t get me wrong I am excited to see these improve and expand opportunities to more students but I have not seen a real increase in CS and IT offerings.

The largest demands for STEM related jobs in CS. Burning glass shows a high demand for these jobs in MA. The growth of K12 education in these fields has declined in the last decades ,my assumptions are this is due to the increase in high stakes testing. Now as in all things education we will cycle back around refocus on CS.  Massachusetts released DL and CS standards in 2016 and there will be a content teaching license for DL & CS grades 5-12 available this December. Now that the foundation is laid (frameworks and license) I hope courses will begin to be built and added to school curriculums. We do our students a disservice in not preparing them for a fast growing segment of the STEM economy.


On to MassCUE

by Beth Knittle on October 10, 2016

It has been one heck of a roller coaster start to the school year. Lots of new tech to deploy, PD to develop not to mention new state standards to integrate and the likely hood of licensing changes.  It is a lot to take in.

But October is here and things tend to get into a rhythm and it is time to connect with others and indulge in some personal learning.  I look forward to attending MassCUE our stated premier conference in technology and learning.  I always learn something an connecting with others not only inspires but put things in perspective.  If you are in the area I highly recommend attending the conference, it is well worth the effort.


Pokemon Go or Gone?

July 31, 2016

As many of you know Pokemon Go was all the rage the last few weeks.  I don’t normally play games but thought I would give it a try and was enjoying playing with my young adult children.  It got us out of the house and doing something together, it was more a side note to […]

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Adding Computer Science into the Curriculum

July 26, 2016

This June the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education formally adopted new Digital Literacy and Computer Science Curriculum Frameworks.  A good portion of the digital literacy frameworks overlap with the literacy standards regarding research, analysis of information, collaboration and presentations.  These standards place added emphasis on these skills and the tech tools needed to […]

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Learning, Schools and a Great Big World

July 13, 2016

For those of you who have been regular readers you know I struggle with traditional schooling and how it confines and limits learning. I have raised two children who were interested in computers, gaming, digital art, ancient languages, ancient arts and mythologies, topics not part of most school curriculum.  A good deal of their learning […]

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School is Out, Time to Play

June 21, 2016

School is out for the summer and now it is time to play. For me it is time to finally give this blog an overhaul.  I will be switching themes to Divi and creating from the ground up.  Change is never smooth for me so the site might go back and forth in styles and […]

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