How much screen time is ok?

Kids are spending more time with screen media than ever before. How might we consider the quality of screen time and not just the quantity? A survey from Common Sense Media  identified four main categories of screen time:

  1. Passive consumption: watching TV, reading, and listening to music
  2. Interactive consumption: playing games and browsing the Internet
  3. Communication: video-chatting and using social media
  4. Content creation: using devices to create

Clearly, there’s a lot of difference among these activities. But as valuable as many of them can be, it’s still important for kids’ overall healthy development to balance their lives with enriching experiences found off screens. Read this full article from Common Sense Media for tips for families to balance time on and off screens.

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Middle School Students’ Reflections on Technology

Students today have never known a world without the ability to Google something.  Wondering if they had ever thought about what their lives would be like without technology tools, we asked a group of SVVS middle school students how technology impacts their learning in school and at home. Below are some of their thoughts.

“The iPads give me the ability to bring my learning into my own hands. With the iPads I can learn at my own speed, which helps me learn much more than I could without them. I can also follow my interests like making videos or writing music.” – CW

“Our learning would be so much different without technology. We would not have the opportunity to do projects like podcasts or make slideshows for a presentation. We also would not have the ability to have easy access to calculators or online graphing calculators likes Desmos which some kids use to expand their learning farther than what the curriculum is. ” -SF

“I can’t imagine not having any technology. I know it could happen and it still happens in some parts of the world, but I feel like I would not have a good future because the workforce is changing as well and if you don’t have a background in technology it would be very hard to get a job.” -TM

Continue reading

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We’d love to hear from you!

Parents and Guardians,

We are seeking your input and feedback so we can continue to build on the current success of the Learning Technology Plan.  Please share your input by clicking here to complete a brief survey

(Spanish version here.)

Thank you for the opportunity to serve our community and students.

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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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