Our staff lives by the saying, “If there is a problem, how do we solve it?” One of the problems that came to our attention was that students were not mastering the digital literacy skills needed to fill the 500,000+ careers open in coding. So our goal was to create a solution to help our students be prepared and hopefully secure some of the well-paid technology jobs in the future. As our staff studied coding, we knew that our students would gain more than just coding skills and be able to think and communicate better as well, skills that are important for careers outside of coding.
The Central ISD Difference
Our district has a culture to see kids succeed. Central’s ISD goal is to create opportunities for our kids to be able to compete for careers. If we don’t provide our students with this opportunity, then they will not be able to compete for the career of their dreams. Therefore, STEM was an easy sell to our staff and community because of all the skills obtained through STEM learning. The ability for our students to solve real-world problems was something that our district wanted and needed guidance in how to obtain. To Central, it’s not about test scores. It’s about our kids and producing successful, business-minded individuals.
The skills students learn will be beneficial to any career they choose. Central feels that students learn the benefits of collaboration and communicating ideas when they work together to code. We also want students to learn and persevere through failure. Students who play video games often fail; however, they learn from that failure and develop a new strategy to succeed. This is how we want our students to view coding. Students must also be fearless when coding – not being afraid of experimenting and hacking their way around programs to solve problems.
How Does Tynker Fit in to Digital Literacy?
According to our district plan, goal 1 is to close the achievement gaps by preparing all students for success with 21st century college and workforce readiness skills. Tynker allows us to provide all students (both beginners and advanced) a curriculum to develop and/or hone the skills needed to be successful in 21st century learning. Tynker allows students to remain engaged because of the game-like atmosphere and enjoy learning. Students have to think and be creative while using Tynker because it is all about problem solving.
One of my favorite things I heard from a student who uses Tynker was after completing the STAAR test, the student said she was able to answer some questions on the STAAR test based on information she learned while using Tynker. This was worth all the money in the world for us as leaders. This is what educating students is about: giving them the opportunities and skills needed to succeed, not only on tests, but also in day-to-day life.
Kyle Ivey is the Instructional Technology Director in Central ISD. Central ISD is a 3A school district serving around 1700 students, 60% of whom are economically disadvantaged. Located in the heart of East Texas, Central strives to prepare youth to excel academically through positive relationships and quality instruction. You can follow Kyle on Twitter @1techydudekyle.