Computer Science in SVVSD

Computer Science is defined by the Colorado Department of Education as “the study of computers, algorithmic processes, and computer programming and coding, including their principles, their hardware and software designs, their applications, and their impact on society.”  It is clear that CS is an integral part of our day-to-day lives; after all, consider the devices and machines we use on a regular basis. Additionally, some of the best career opportunities are in computer science fields.  Recognizing this, St. Vrain Valley Schools has been working hard over the past four years to support and guide teachers in bringing CS to ALL students.

During the 2017-18 school year, 18 teachers from throughout the district participated in our inaugural Computer Science Collaborative.  A collaborative is a specific professional development model that brings together a diverse group for an extended time to explore a shared topic: in this case, computer science.   One of the benefits of a collaborative approach to professional development is that teachers from different schools and grade levels have the opportunity to work and learn together.

Through discussions, research and meetings with professionals in the field, each teacher group identified ways that they could bring computer science into their schools and classrooms.  Our elementary teachers found ways to integrate computer science into what they currently teach. Middle school teachers explored integration as well, but also began developing CS-specific units and classes.  High school teachers discussed the need for a common scope-and-sequence and developed ideas for classes at all levels.

We’re excited that our collaborative will continue on next year, and that, through a grant we received from Google, we are able to more than double the number of teachers participating!

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Video Reflection: Make It a Part of Everyday Learning!

How was school today?

Thinking and re-engaging in the learnings of the day helps build connections in our brains.  Having children talk about or “reflect” on their learning can give rise to talking about interesting ideas or expose some misconceptions that might need untangling.  This conversation has traditionally started with asking “How was school today?”  The availability of technological tools can enrich this conversation and empower students to extend their learning through reflection. It might also help support growth mindset for both parent and child.

The first step for this reflective dialogue begins in the classroom when students have access to technology such as an iPad.  Students can utilize the camera to capture their thoughts and reflections in the moment, much like a diary.  A brief (30 second) video reflection helps students do the challenging metacognition in a simple, straightforward way. They can “talk it out” with themselves. No one else needs to see or hear them. These reflections at first might feel uncomfortable or challenge the student; however, over time students can become comfortable doing this as a matter of routine.  When kept as a digital diary, a student may smile when they hear their words years down the road.  What a gift to our future self! 

To do these reflections on the iPads we only need to turn on the camera and do a quick “selfie” video.  That recording is stored right on the iPad or can be moved to your storage drive or shared with others.

How might you experiment with video reflections?  Can you tell us about the book, story, or article you just read? Can you explain why you are working so hard on the Lego, video, or coding project you are doing?  Can you share a problem you saw and the five ways you’ve brainstormed to solve it?  Can you tell us the plot of your new movie? Or your excitement about the GarageBand song you’re developing? Can you share what you have a passion to learn?  Or can you tell us how you learn best?

Explore at home and in classrooms.  What do you learn about how you learn?  Go ahead, point the camera, and tell yourself about it!

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Accessibility Features for Everyone on iPads

 Accessibility Features for Everyone on iPads

Students looking at an iPad


Did you know that your iPad has great features built in that can enhance learning and literacy? Accessibility features built into the basic Apple apps can support all learners in powerful ways. All of the apps created by Apple support these features in both iOS and Mac OS.


Reading Support

iPad Settings ScreenSometimes it’s important to READ and HEAR the content that is critical. Turning on the Speak Screen or Speak Selection in Settings allows someone to quickly have any text read aloud.  A web page in the Safari browser, a document opened in Pages, and Notes taken in class can be accessible to read and hear. You can even choose to have the words highlighted as they are read aloud.

Reader View in Safari

Distracted by the jumble of ads or sidebars on a website?  Switch on Reader view in Safari to get only the article. No clutter! Couple that simplicity with Speak Screen and only the important information is read aloud!

screenshot of web page with reader view turned offscreenshot of web page with reader view turned on


A dictionary is built in to the iOS. Highlight a word and tap “Look Up” to open the dictionary. 

Writing and Presentation Support

Using Pages or Notes to write, you can have your essay read aloud to you. Do the first edit of your writing using Speak Selection.  Sometimes hearing your words can help you “hear” what you’ve written. You might choose a better word when you hear the way a sentence sounds OR “listen” to your presentation to hear how an audience will experience the words.   

Needing more focus?iPad Settings screen

Guided Access keeps you on a single app and disables the Home button. You focus on the task at hand and get the learning done!

Check out on the Apple Support page to learn more.

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Summer High School STEM Classes at the Innovation Center

Sign Up Today for the Summer High School STEM Classes at the Innovation Center!

flyer for summer STEM classes

This summer the Innovation Center is offering three for-credit High School STEM classes, and one non-credit opportunity for students.
For-credit classes (0.5 credit elective):
June 4 – June 28th
Mondays – Thursdays, 8:30am – 12:30pm
$150 to attend.

*Apple Certified Mac & iOS Technician
*Introduction to Programming
*IT Fundamentals (CompTIA Certification)

CyberSecurity boot camp (non-credit)
Mon – Thurs, June 11-June 14, 1pm – 3pm,
$50 to attend.

Interested students can sign up at

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Is your child ready for a smart phone?

Devorah Heitner, author of Screenwise and the blog, Raising Digital Natives, recently wrote this article for families, Hold the Phone: 8 Signs Your Kid Isn’t Ready for a Phone.

We’re excited to have the opportunity to work with Dr. Heitner and school leadership teams this summer to explore opportunities to strengthen school-family connections!

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