In a time when education and technology go hand in hand, incorporating STEM learning into the curriculum is key. Thanks to MAA’s Technology teacher, Ms. Victoria Frieswick, our students are learning everything from digital citizenship to the basics of coding beginning in kindergarten.
Ms. Frieswick leverages a number of age-specific tools for teaching code in an engaging and dynamic way. Kindergarteners use iPad programs like ScratchJr, Code.org, and Kodable to learn the basics and improve critical thinking skills. For Ms. Frieswick, critical thinking and independence are crucial tools for students to have and technology is a fun and dynamic way for students to challenge themselves.
“Technology will not always do what you want,” she laughed. “If students learn problem-solving skills and how to deal with technology frustration at four or five-years-old, they will develop the confidence and gain the knowledge needed to ask ‘okay, why won’t this work?’ and try to fix it on their own.” Ms. Frieswick is quick to point out, though, that not all of her lessons are on the iPads or even a desktop computer.
She uses unplugged activities like “programming” a maze on a piece of paper or on the classroom floor with tiles to reinforce learning and concepts. “It is great if a student can complete a coding lesson on an iPad, but they also have to be able to demonstrate they understand the principles beyond the screen.” Students from kindergarten to sixth grade enjoy the problem-solving aspects of the work, and Ms. Frieswick enjoys watching them gain confidence and apply their skills beyond her classroom.
Confidence in one’s ability can be a challenge for a lot of middle school students, and some programs, like Code.org, are committed to building girls’ confidence in particular. “They put a huge emphasis on this and it is really helpful for girls to see this profession as fun and in the realm of possibility for them,” Mrs. Frieswick said.
Perhaps even more important than developing these skills, though, is learning how to use them safely. She weaves digital citizenship into all of her lessons, stressing the importance of being kind and cautious when interacting online. “Digital citizenship is just so important for elementary school students because they are growing up with technology that is advancing so fast, and it is all around them,” she stated. In her digital citizenship lessons, Ms. Frieswick focuses on appropriate online behavior and is always sure to make the link between MAA’s children’s mission statement and student’s conduct online.
With technology as an ever-present and growing part of our families’ lives, we are grateful to have Ms. Frieswick as our children’s guide, preparing them to use technology for good — and teaching them to share their gifts with others to make the world a better place.