Nov 21

Computer Science Education Week, 2017

This time of year we have so much to be thankful for and so much to celebrate. Personally, I am thankful to work in such an amazing school district with forward-thinking educators, supportive and involved families, and brilliant, creative scholars. I’m incredibly grateful for my family and friends, and for my two beautiful children who surprise and delight me every day. But today I am also grateful for the technology that makes it possible for me to learn and grow at every stage of my life. If it weren’t for computers and computer science, I wouldn’t be able to take free online courses about my favorite topics, or learn how to code without spending thousands of dollars at expensive institutions. I wouldn’t be able to connect with amazing educators around the globe, or research new ways of integrating STEM concepts into the classroom. I wouldn’t be able to see student thinking by way of their creations in applications like iMovie or Seesaw, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to share designs that students and educators develop with design thinking. Indeed, computer science affords personal and professional growth that I don’t want to imagine life without.

As we work to prepare students for being able to prepare themselves for anything, computer science education must be a part of our discussion. St Vrain embraces the importance of computer science topics integrated throughout the school day, not just as an after-school add-on for a few students. Teachers and educators throughout the district are creating opportunities for students to explore and discover through computer science – opportunities to help them become authors instead of just consumers.

During the week of December 4th through 10th, 2017, St Vrain will join thousands of other school districts across the nation in celebrating Computer Science Education Week (“CSEd Week”), which gives us all the opportunity to focus more deeply on integrating computer science concepts into classrooms, activities, and after-school spaces. Made famous by the Hour of Code initiative launched by, Computer Science Education Week is an annual event designed to inspire students to take an interest in computer science and to discover the connections between computer science and their everyday lives.

To enhance this experience, here are a few ideas on how to highlight computer science in your household and community with your student during CSEd week, and beyond!  

Get informed: Visit our website,, to learn more about Computer Science education and what St Vrain is doing to expand opportunities for our students. There, you will find pages specific for families and for community members with ways to get involved.

Ask questions at school: Each school and classroom will celebrate CSEd week differently. Check with your school administrators to learn more about specific CSEd week activities at your school. If your school is not celebrating, ask about ways you can start this discussion in your community.

Learn alongside your student: Many of us parents already feel surpassed by our children’s abilities with technology – but there are certainly things we can learn together! is a great place to start – it offers free tutorials and theme-based games for learning how to code. Google’s CS First also offers great and accessible content. Bitsbox has a complimentary online platform where you can create apps together. And if you want to learn more together about having a responsible digital presence online, check out Google’s Be Internet Awesome – a full world with gaming and learning options for helping us be the best version of ourselves both online and in real life.   

Learn “unplugged”: Don’t have easy access to technology at home? Unplugged activities have you covered! has a lot of free learning ideas for developing these concepts without staring at a screen.

Share your expertise: One of the most beautiful things about computer science as an industry is the high level of collaboration it takes to accomplish any task. Join in that spirit and share your learning or your expertise with your classroom, your school, or even your neighbor! Show your student how much more we can accomplish when we work with other people.   

Follow the conversation: If you’re on social media, check out #svvsdcsed to follow what’s happening in St Vrain CSEd throughout the year.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you find more than a few reasons to be grateful for Computer Science Education this year! And thank you for being a part of the St Vrain family – we are grateful for you!


Becky Peters

Program Manager at the Innovation Center of St Vrain Valley Schools


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Nov 21

Digital Library

Every student – every reader – in St. Vrain Valley Schools deserves access to high-interest, complex texts whenever and wherever they choose. This means all kinds of books -print and digital. Over the years, St. Vrain Valley School District voters approved several mill levy overrides and bonds that, among other improvements, greatly strengthen our district’s capacity to equip students with dynamic technology tools. As a result, the SVVS Learning Technology Plan was developed. The LTP focused on transforming teaching and learning through digital connectivity and content.

This advancement in learning technology has also started to revolutionize our libraries. The District Digital Library offers eBooks and audiobooks and streaming media, including over 72,000 titles for elementary, middle and high school students and District staff.  Many titles have both an eBook and AudioBook version and several titles have multiple copies.  These titles complement each school’s library of print books and serve as a component of SVVS’s continued promise to prepare all students for the world they will inherit – a world where reading literacy is a hybrid experience across multiple platforms. For many, including myself, how and where our students are learning to read and reading for pleasure is a landscape much different than what we knew even a decade ago. As citizens,  students will need to know how to access, recall, and comprehend texts across all platforms. St. Vrain is dedicated to making sure they have the opportunities to practice those skills in schools and classrooms where knowledgeable, professional educators can help them navigate this new terrain.

In its work to make sure students have quality texts available for this learning, the District Digital Library committee has dedicated many hours to ensure that the best titles, topics, and authors are available in this digital library and that we are reaching all readers and interests​. Professional resources for teaching staff have also been purchased. Students and staff can enjoy this library anytime, anywhere on a computer, iPad, smartphone or eReader. In the 2016-2017 school year, 134,741 digital books were checked out – more than any other district in the U.S.

This is another example of how the St. Vrain Valley Schools are providing opportunities that are expanding students’ capacity for success and giving them an advantage for the future.

For further information and access please click on the following links or contact your school library staff.

Thank you and happy reading!

Kahle Charles, Executive Director of Curriculum

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Nov 21

Having Fun Exploring Online

When we read an interesting story that grabs our attention and leads us down a path to something new, we can get lost exploring a world we didn’t know existed. How might we foster this kind of growth in our students?  

When children are allowed time to explore and ask questions about things that are interesting to them, we create the foundation for an inquiry based classroom where students are in charge of their own learning.  Technology empowers us to tap into the work of creative and curious people, and each student in SVVSD has the tools in their hands to explore at home and at school. Here are some of websites that you and your family might find interesting to explore and learn together at home.


Wonderopolis is a great place to start for all ages. Wonderopolis was created by the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) in 2010.  This site opens with a “question of the day” to explore. These questions are archived within the site. It’s a great way to bring you together to think and ask questions about a topic that excites you.

How about the Smithsonian online collections? Or go directly to the Smithsonian Online Exhibits for Kids. It’s a place to get “lost” for a long time online! Or Explore our nation’s rich treasures, science, and shared history.

See also the Museum Spot  – a great resource for all things “museum.”  Go there to explore and learn about other fantastic museums online.

There are so many libraries online. Why not start in our own Library of Congress? The Education link on the Library of Congress site is for “students and life-long learners.”  Check it out!

Looking for more library ideas? Check out the Library Spot, which compiles interesting things to find in online libraries! The Homework Spot is fun to explore, too. Click on the Field Trips or explore exhibits like this one about Baseball from the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

Our own local museum, The Longmont Museum is a great place for the families to go or visit the exhibits online.   Check out the exhibits and look ahead to some of the special classes offered for children during the holiday season and Winter Break.   


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Nov 21

Sharing Holiday Memories

Document your Holiday Adventures!

Looking for creative ways to keep your holiday memories fresh? Here are some ideas for journaling adventures to help your child maintain their writing and reflecting skills!

Take pictures, videos, and/or write a story about any adventure, big or small. What a fun way to help your child/ren share their holiday memories!

See below for tips on how to use Keynote, Pages, Book Creator, and/or Pic Kids (PicCollage) to guide them in their journaling.

Happy Holidays!!


Tutorial #1

Tutorial #2



Book Creator

Tutorial #1

Tutorial #2

Pic Kids (PicCollage)



created by Rychie Rhodes and Cathy Carter

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Oct 20

Thinking Differently About Digital Devices at Home

Conversations about the use of digital devices and the boundaries of screen time are important for families.  We know that dialogue around technology use in the home is ongoing for families and want to offer some information on how digital devices can be used to make connections with each other and enhance relationships between parents and their children. Engaging with your children while using devices together can elevate the entire experience!

Check out these resources on using digital devices as a family.

  • Family Tech
    • A tech company creating mobile applications dedicated to improving and organizing family events and experiences.


Our hope is that as we continue to utilize digital devices in schools in ways that empower learning, families can begin to experience this same creativity and empowerment at home!

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