• Mikkela Hammond

Teaching Technology

It's important to give children opportunities to learn about technology. With every passing year, technology becomes more essential to our world and understanding technology becomes increasingly necessary to get by. Amazing and useful things are being created or improved upon all the time and as a Mountain View school, right here in the heart of Silicon Valley, we're surrounded by some of the coolest, cutting edge examples.

Perhaps that's why many of my students get so excited when given the opportunity to work with technology. It's always a good day when I can trick my students into learning something while they're having fun! These sorts of projects can really let kids stretch their creativity and build up many different skills.

Currently, the whole school has been doing a long term project where each student is coding their own video game. We're doing this through Microsoft MakeCode Arcade, which enables the students to make games using block code, JavaScript, or Python.




Some of the students have gotten very into the design aspect of it, creating pixel art and meticulously arranging things to perfectly match their vision of it. Others are more interested in the game mechanics and figuring out how to make the rules players must follow. One student was gleefully showing off the game he'd made that was literally impossible to win. Another student told me I could share a link to her game Collect the Mushrooms, which she's rightly proud of.

Thanks to a fundraiser earlier this year, we were able to get our hands on some Meowbits, little devices which the students can download a game at a time to. The kids like having that extra bit of authenticity, making their games seem more real and professional. Plus it allows them to more easily show their games off to fellow classmates!






Teaching technology in class is important, but many kids have technological skills that they've learned elsewhere as well. It's nice to give students opportunities to use those skills. For our Family Fun Night this year, we're making a documentary about the animals and plants around us. A number of my 5th through 8th graders volunteered to do the editing that's necessary to turn a motley collection of videos into a single documentary.

They're doing all sorts of different things as they see this project to its close: splicing videos together, applying audio mixing, adding filters and music, creating credits and subtitles, and more. And that's just the technical skills! The students have also been organizing who should do which task, making sure everything will look and sound cohesive, and dealing with all the inevitable technical difficulties and communication mix ups. I'm extremely proud of what they're accomplishing.

If you want to see the finished project, come join us for Family Fun Night on Wednesday, 6/8 at 6:30 PM at St. Stephen Lutheran School where we'll be showing the documentary. Afterward, please stick around for snacks and conversation outside by the playground.



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