Middle school students have one period of technology instruction per week, for one trimester. 6th grade students have technology class in the fall trimester, 8th grade in the winter, and 7th grade in the spring. It adds up to 10 hours of classroom time per year.
Tech class employs a workshop format offering several options to engage every student. Students learn coding in Scratch as they complete short and fun projects that build mastery of specific subjects from the computer science algorithms and programming standards. They also have the opportunity to develop 3d modeling skills to create 3d printed objects in support of their other class projects. Learn more about how tech class works and what to expect.
While students may now also use tech class time to work on 3d modeling class projects, the core curriculum and assignments remain focused on computer science. I strive to make the assignments fun and engaging, with a maximum opportunity for student creativity while still addressing key computer science standards. Learn more about computer science standards and St. John tech class.
6th and 7th grade students learn computer programming using the Scratch programming language. Scratch is a teaching language designed by MIT specifically for making programming fun and engaging for new learners. It has specific features and a drag-and-drop LEGO-like design tooling which makes it easy to create animated videos and games.
8th grade students will complete a capstone project, either an adventure or quest style game, or a 3d model of a building. The programming option focuses on completion of the algorithms and programming standards, including nested loops, compound conditional branching, and the use of flow charts as a design tool.
Independent study options with more advanced programming assignments are also available at each grade level.
Technology is not graded on the A, B, C, D, F scale and does not impact a student’s grade point average. Each trimester features one learning assessment which students may retake until they pass. Tech class is graded primarily on participation and effort on the following scale:
I: Improvement Needed. Student makes extremely poor use of classroom time. Behaviors may include visiting irrelevant websites, talking with friends, and disrupting the learning of others rather than working on class assignments.
P: Progress Shown. Student effort and engagement is low with minimal progress towards standards. Students who do not pass the quiz after multiple retakes also receive this grade.
M: Meets expectations. Student demonstrates a commitment to growth by participating in class and consistently working on class assignments.
E: Exceeds Expectations: Student submits completed assignments for grading. Completed work consistently meets the assignment’s criteria for exceeding expectations.
When reviewing grades in PowerSchool, ignore any points or percentages it displays for Tech Class. Just the E – M – P – I grade matters.
Intro to Scratch
Student Accounts on the Scratch Website
All students in grades are required to create and use an account on the Scratch website to complete, submit, and share their technology class assignments. In addition to expectations for compliance with St. John Technology Use Policy (see the Family Handbook), students are instructed to avoid the use of any personal information such as their name in their Scratch account and shared projects.
We use special Scratch education accounts and a classroom page on the Scratch website to manage our work. These Scratch accounts are setup by students using an invitation URL provided by Mr. James in class. These accounts have student-specified passwords but do not have an associated email address. Shared projects are still publicly visible and students may interact with others on the Scratch website just like a regular account holder. As the teacher for the online classroom, Mr. James can reset passwords.