Monday, May 23, 2016

Summer Community Education: Increasing Student Learning through Fun

This year, Pinewood Elementary began to teach computer coding or programming to our students in grades K through 5. Many students absolutely loved it, so we began a coding club. We will continue these clubs in the fall and even build on them with more programs, but over the summer Monticello Community Education is offering a number of classes for kids that our students would absolutely love.

First, our students love Legos, robots, and coding. There are a number of classes that combine these items. For ages 5 to grade 2, Techstars: Junior Lego Engineering is perfect! In this class, students will use Legos to learn the basics of engineering. Another great class for students in this age group is Techstars: Robotic Builders: Battlebots. In this class kindergarten through 4th grade students will use Lego WeDo robotics kits to learn about robotics, engineering, and programming. For students who need a bit more of a challenge, Techstars: Mindstorms EV3 Battlebots is a great fit. This class for grades 2 through 7 uses Lego MindStorms Kits to complete challenges and in the final event battle each other's robots sumo style! And for those that want to skip the coding and just learn some basic engineering through Legos, the Lego X Olympic Decathalon (grades 1-5) is perfect !

Aside from Lego Robotics, there are a few other robotics options available. The first is a STEM/Robotics Camp for grades 3 through 5. At camp, students will be mentored in robotics by students from NDSU's robotic team. This is a great introduction to robotics for those who would like to join a Lego League team. Students in grades 2 through 6 can also join the Science Explorers: Battling Robo-Botz class to learn to build their own robots and compete to see who's robot is best.

Finally, students can explore video game design and coding in these classes. Techstars: Video Game Design for grade 3 through 7 will teach students to use basic programming to create their own video games. Students can also learn about logic and video game mods through two different Mincraft classes- Advanced Minecraft: Using Mods, Redstones, and Textures and Techstars: Java Minecraft Mod Development.

Learn about these and all the other community ed classes available at

The Local Public Library: Supporting Student Learning through the Summer

One of the reasons I have survived and even thrived as a Media Specialist is because of my high school Media Specialist, Wanda Erickson. On top of working at the Upsala School, Wanda is also a librarian at the local branch of the Great River Regional Library. Wanda has helped me to not only support my students at the school, but also to form connections with the public library. Recently I asked her about the library's summer reading program for kids. She passed along some information and also hooked me up with the local Library Services Coordinator, Sarah Seeley. Sarah and I talked and together created a short advertisement to share with the students about the summer reading program. Below is our video advertisement.

This year, the Great River Regional Library's Summer Reading Theme is Read for the Win. Students can swing by their local branch of the Great River Regional Library to pick up a library card and some books and sign up for the program. Students will receive a reading record on which they keep track of their summer reading. Each reading record has 5 clocks on it. Students will mark off one clock for each hour they read, are read to, or listen to an audiobook. When students have marked off 5 hours, they can return their records to the library to be entered into a drawing for some sweet prizes! While they are there, they can also pick up some more books to read. The program runs June 13-August 13. You can visit for more information.

Also, this summer at the library, there will be lots of fun events for the kids to join in. Come during lunchtime on Fridays for crafts, reading, and social time. There are other craft opportunities as well, including creating a robot from recycled materials and creating balloon animals! There is even a Library Olympics in July! Check out all the events at the Great River Regional Library here:

There's always something fun happening at your local public library!