Tech Class Expectations

Tech class has transitioned to a workshop format and has adopted several elements of the “flipped classroom” instructional strategy.

What does that mean?

Wikipedia tells us that “A flipped classroom is an instructional strategy and a type of blended learning that reverses the traditional learning environment by delivering instructional content, often online, outside of the classroom. It moves activities, including those that may have traditionally been considered homework, into the classroom.

How is this applied by the St. John Tech Class?

I want to engage every student in meaningful learning, no matter what their enthusiasm or prior experience might be.  Towards that end I offer several options which each student may choose from, and even switch back and forth over the course of the trimester.

This format achieves two objectives.  It enables more varied experiences intended to address the needs of any student, including independent study options and the ability to support each student moving at their own pace through the assignments.  It also develops “life long learner” skills for making effective use of learning resources.

Most classes are 100% individual working time with individual and small group support for using learning resources, problem solving, and troubleshooting.  About halfway through the trimester we start (optional) presentations of student work.

Students may choose from the following paths through tech class:

The happy fun default path:  master computer science concepts by completing fun Scratch programming assignments in order at your own pace.  Each assignment has detailed expectations and is accompanied by one or more videos explaining the concepts and demonstrating how to complete the assignment.  Work in class and at home.  Get individual help solving problems in class or by email.  All students must complete at least a few assignments on this path in preparation for the quiz.  Here’s a link to each grade’s assignments:  Grade 6 Grade 7 (Grade 8 TBD)

3d modeling:  use tech class time and resources to work on a 3d model to be printed and used for another class project.  7th grade students may design and print components for their simple machines science project.  Any student may use tech class time to work on a model in support of another class project, such as a book talk or other project requiring a “visual aid”.  You may combine this with the default path (above) and switch back and forth between them if you like.  Do a couple TinkerCAD tutorials and get a few pointers in class and you will be productive in no time!  7th grade students should check out Mr. James’ saved collection of Simple Machines projects on Thingiverse.  Students are still expected to master the basic algorithm and programming concepts, but this should not prevent anyone from spending about half their time in tech class on 3d modeling.

Independent/advanced study:  Unlock this path by placing out of the Scratch assignments:   complete your grade’s assignment number 4 at a level that exceeds expectations.  Then you can design your own programming assignment, or pick from a list of options.  These assignments must be challenging and further develop your computer science skills.  Each assignment must be approved by Mr. James and must include a plan to achieve specific K-8 computer science standards, ideally standards from the algorithms and programming list which are not addressed through the default Scratch assignments.