Students dive into many creative and collaborative projects throughout the school year in STEAM. During the Fall term students begin by developing their computer skills, and learn how to use the internet safely. Students navigate the ins and outs of both My IMS as well as Google programs and learn how to use these skills inside the classroom. In addition, topics such as cyberbullying, privacy, and how to safely share information online were all addressed. Once students demonstrate a solid understanding of these platforms and skills it is then time for them to apply them, think critically, and collaborate with their classmates during many different projects and units. Students work both independently and at their own pace using Tynker.com an online program to learn the beginnings of the computer languages of Java and Python through interactive lessons. Furthermore, in small groups students re-created their own version of the show “Shark Tank” and invented a new product and presented their sales pitch to their classmates. During the Animation Unit students channeled their creativity and mathematical thinking while learning the various steps of the animation process. Students began by analyzing a few Pixar Short films and wrote definitions of ‘animation’ that evolved over the course of the term as they gained a further understanding of the process. Students learned the math and science behind the art of animation using “Pixar in a Box,” a collaboration between Pixar and Khan Academy, and completed interactives that demonstrated their understanding of the process.
Seventh Digital Skills
Learning and the Brain
Learning and the Brain is a general survey class focused primarily upon the “learning process” and principle topics associated with the acquisition, interpretation, organization, storage, and retrieval of information. Students are asked to continually reflect on their own learning process, their unique pattern of strengths and weaknesses, and the similarities and differences between their process and that of others in the class. Controversial topics, such as learning styles, laterality, multiple intelligences, and the like, are presented during class discussions in an effort to promote students’ critical thinking skills. Near the midpoint of the term, students complete an Executive Functioning Self-Assessment (adapted from the work of George McCloskey) to further examine their own strengths and weaknesses as it relates to the areas of attention, engagement, memory, efficiency, etc. The course concludes the term with studies of classical and operant conditioning, schedules of reinforcement, sensation, perception, and other related topics.
Eighth Outdoor Ed
Ninth Coding & Design
In Design and Coding class students explore the rudiments of the computer language, Swift, via the Playgrounds app on their iPads. This is a language developed by Apple for the creation of apps for their devices. The more overarching aim of this course was for students to engage in the Design Thinking process, which includes ideation, selection, sketching, and prototyping. Students engage in the various aspects of this process as they develope ideas for a product that uses recycled materials. Within this framework, students discuss affordances and signifiers as principles of design. They become critics of good and bad design. In the ideation process, they learn how to cross-ideas and use associations to innovate. Some students also explore the possibilities of the Reality Composer app for prototyping in augmented reality. At the culmination of the course, students present pitches in three minute videos for the object they would like to produce before an audience of teachers and peers. They prepare multiple sketches of the object and provide a detailed explanation of how it would work, what ages and genders they are targeting, and what problem or issue the product would address in the lives of their target group.
Eighth Study Skills
The Eighth Grade Study Skills focuses on two main topics. First and foremost is the research process. As the students work their way through term papers and assignments in other courses, they learn methods and techniques that support these assignments and other work to come in future courses. Time is spent investigating effective and efficient means to conduct internet research, how to find pertinent information in gathered sources and how to organize materials and information. The class also learns ways to enhance a paper through proper formatting and the introduction of graphics. The second topic of the course is preparation for comprehensive exams. Review and study techniques are covered.