I'll be updating this soon with details about the curriculum for the upcoming quarter!
8th Grade: Students will work in small groups to plan and build scale models in Minecraft. They will start with an interior that they can refer to immediately: the TCS Lab! After presenting their model to the class and reflecting on what went well and what they would do differently in their next model, both in terms of design and scale, their 2nd assignment will be to create the exterior of Walt Disney Magnet School in Minecraft. Using Google Earth as a guide, as well as some basic footprint measurements that will be supplied, students will work in a small group to manage their own server, design and build the model, and save their files, as well as create a presentation of their model. Finally, during the remaining weeks students will choose a building to create as a scale model in Minecraft.
7th Grade: Students will learn to create realistic 3D models, using the software SketchUp. The first assignment, building a dog house, will introduce them to the basic tools and navigation, as well as how to use a variety of materials. The second assignment, building a model of a high-rise exterior, will reinforce these skills and also show students how to create and edit components that can be used repeatedly. In the third assignment students will be able to use and edit components downloaded from the internet to design the interior of an apartment.
6th Grade: During this quarter students will work in groups to research, design, and build an ancient civilization-themed amusement park, using Minecraft. Students will spend 2 classes researching and planning, then 5 weeks building the park, recording their progress all along the way. We’ll then spend a week presenting our parks to each other, and during the final week we will be able to visit each other’s parks!
4th and 5th Grade: This quarter, students will be working in MinecraftEdu to build a community. While some students are already with this game, we will spend a couple of classes making sure everyone is up to speed on the controls as well as becoming familiar with how to use the server and how to behave in this virtual environment. After this introduction, students will form groups of 8-10 students and create a plan for everything they will need to build for a community. They will draw a bird-eye map of their plan, then work collaboratively to build it in Minecraft. As an ongoing part of the project, students will create a slideshow documenting and reflecting on their weekly progress.
1st Grade: In our continuation of an introduction to programming with Scratch Jr, students will learn simple programming commands that will animate their characters. At the end of the first module, students will create a ScratchJr collage project. In the second module, students learn how to define more specific behavior for their characters, and they use tools such as speech bubbles and pages to help them weave a narrative. At the end of the module, students will create a ScratchJr story project.
8th Grade: The focus continues to be computer science. Students will be using Processing,Swift Playgrounds and ComputerCraft to explore conditionals, variables, loops and algorithms. Mr. Russell’s class, who has already completed the Swift unit, will also be exploring the design process via Gamestar Mechanic.
6th and 7th Grade: Students are learning to think like a game designer using Gamestar Mechanic. Students are introduced to Systems Thinking, where a change in one element of game design causes changes into other elements. Students are also introduced to the Design Process: Ask → Imagine → Plan → Create → Test/Evaluate → Improve, and will work in teams to give and receive feedback for improving their designs. Game design is a lot of fun but also takes planning and perseverance to make a game where the 5 elements are balanced. Students will create a 3-Level Game, where each level is more difficult. They will also create a game where the focus is on the action, and a game where the focus is on the narrative. We will end the quarter creating games for the 2017 STEM Game Design Challenge: https://gamestarmechanic.com/challenges/about/STEM17
4th and 5th Grade: During the 3rd Quarter students will be designing maze and pong games using Scratch. Important concepts that students will learn during these units include X and Y Coordinate systems, Events, Conditionals, Looping, Initialization, and Variables.
1st Grade: First Grade will begin a computer science unit focused on commands, sequence, loops and events. Using the website Kodable, students will complete puzzles where they use logical sequences of commands, conditionals and loops to get the fuzz ball through the maze! Next we’ll begin exploring Scratch Jr., an iPad app that allows for a more open-ended exploration of computer science concepts. Students will first create interactive scenes, where sprites complete sequences of action when they are clicked on, then move on to animated scenes, where one event triggers many sequences.
The focus of this quarter will be on continuing our Visual Art and Computer Science unit, using the Processing language (check out processing.org to learn more). Processing is a text-based language built on Java that is used primarily by visual artists (check out processing.org and openprocessing.org to learn more and see some examples). We will be learning more Processing functions, creating digital collages, and using variables and conditional statements to create interactive art. Some of the 8th graders will also be introduced to Swift Playgrounds, an iPad app that teaches students to code using Swift, which is the language used to build iPad apps. These lessons are self-paces, but will also include some “unplugged” activities that help students understand fundamental computer science concepts such as sequence, conditionals, looping and variables.
Since we took a detour through using Scratch programming last quarter, during the 2nd quarter 7th graders will begin with using StarLogo Nova to program a simulation of the spread of a disease. Students will learn how powerful computer science can be in helping to solve complex problems. Following this unit, students will use VidCode (Check it out at https://app.vidcode.io/), where they will learn to use the JavaSript language to make video filters and stop motion animation.
All 6th graders have completed some introductory units in Scratch, but since some students have had TCS for 1 or 2 years and others are new this year, there is a wide range of proficiency levels. This quarter, using the CS-First curriculum created by Google, students will be able to choose a theme that fits their interests and their skill level. New students will choose between Storytelling and Music and Sound, while students who feel ready to do more can choose between Art or Fashion and Design, and those who are ready for a challenge will choose between Sports, Social Media, or Game Design. The CS-First curriculum includes instructional videos, starter projects that students remix, and short quizzes for checks on student understanding. All themes contain 8 projects/activities, and although one activity will typically be completed each class, students will work at their own pace and may complete a whole theme and begin work on a second during the quarter. Other students may choose to expand some of their projects and work on them over 2 classes.
Students will continue their introduction to Computer Science and Scratch programming. This quarter students will complete a number of “unplugged” activities that will help develop their “computational thinking” and their understanding of concepts such as sequence, coordinates, and conditionals. Students will create animation and stories, as well as an interactive greeting card.
Students will continue to grow in their ability to use the mouse and keyboard to control the computer, access websites, and create art. Using the SeeSaw app, students will create a drawing for things they are thankful for, as well as for each of the seasons. Students learn to use a code to join the class both on the computer and the iPad. Students will also use the app Build with Chrome, a virtual Lego builder which also helps them learn to use multiple mouse functions, including the right click and the scroll wheel. After we return from winter break, students will begin using Kodable, a website that introduces the computer science concepts of algorithms, sequence and conditions.
Big Ideas: The focus of the first quarter is getting students used to the routines and procedures of the computer lab, understanding the parts of the computer, how to open and close programs, how to save a document to a local folder and follow naming conventions, and practicing using the keyboard and mouse.
4th and 5th Grade
Big Ideas: Since most of the students in 4th and 5th grade are new to me: Welcome to TCS! We will spend the first two classes getting to know each other and the expected norms and procedures of my class, as well as learning how to access our Google accounts. We’ll then complete a blended learning unit on Financial Literacy, using the VAULT curriculum from EverFi (you can learn more at https://everfi.com/k12/vault-understanding-money/). This will include learning how to use the Google tools that come with our CPS account, including Google Classroom, Google Docs, and Google Sheets.
6th Grade and 5th Grade Gifted
Big Ideas: We will spend the first two classes getting to know each other and the expected norms and procedures of my class, as well as learning how to access our Google accounts. We’ll then launch into the Scratch programming unit, with a series of activities to introduce not only Scratch interface but also the computational thinking and practices involved in computer science, such as iterative development, sequence, debugging code, and the solving of problems that do not have one “right” answer.
Big Ideas: In the first quarter we will start with an orientation to the expected norms and procedures of class, as well as getting to know each other better. We’ll spend a day learning about the current impact of computers and computer science’s role in a variety of fields (check out https://techprep.fb.com/why/ for a nice overview). We’ll spend the rest of the quarter learning how to use computer science to run scientific simulations, using a program called StarLogo Nova. In SLNova, “turtles” are programed to move, interact with other turtles, and react to different types of situations. We’ll spend about 4 weeks just getting to know the program, and in the final day of the quarter we’ll be creating a simulation of a virus outbreak, which during the start of the second quarter we will study and try to contain!
Big Ideas: In the first quarter we will start with an orientation to the expected norms and procedures of class, as well as getting to know each other better. There will be a two-week unit on financial and career literacy to provide an opportunity to practice class norms and procedures as well as align our focus to thinking about the future, in which computer science (CS) plays such a large role. We’ll then learn about the current impact of CS and some potential CS career paths (check out https://techprep.fb.com/why/ for a nice overview). Third, we will begin our first CS unit of the year, exploring and getting some practice using the Processing language, a text based language built on Java that is used primarily by visual artists. Processing is a great introduction to text-based code because of the immediate visual feedback. You can learn more at processing.org or at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Processing_(programming_language).
TCS, or 21st Century Solutions, is a class focused on exploring computer science and using technology in a creative way.
About Mrs. Kostecki:
I've been teaching at Disney since 2004. I've always loved technology, especially using it creatively, such as in graphic design, video editing, and coding. Prior to teaching I worked in IT, including 3 years at Disney. I have a Masters Degree in Sociology from Northwestern University, and also recently earned my MA in Educational Technology. I am married and have two kids, and I love traveling, which I often do to visit my mom, three brothers and sister, who all live if different cities!