JQS Computer Specialty

Computer Specialty at JQS
At JQS we teach students 21st century digital literacy and computer skills.  

"In the last decade, changes in technology, communication, and the information life cycle have contributed to significant changes in our world. Increasingly, people are becoming technology creators as well as technology users. Meaningful participation in modern society requires fluency in the uses of, impact of, and ability to manipulate technology for living, learning, and working. Given this context, knowledge and skills included in the Digital Literacy and Computer Science (DLCS) standards are essential for all students. Student of all backgrounds should be prepared for personal and civic efficacy in the twenty-first century and should have the opportunity to consider innovative and creative technology-based careers of the future."  - 2016 Massachusetts Digital Literacy and Computer Science (DLCS) Curriculum Framework.

Our students get to use modern technology regularly at school: chromebooks, iPads, PCs and sometimes MacBooks. We also have computer specialty and a Maker Space in the library, stocked with educational engineering and technology learning toys.   5th graders can choose to be in computer club or robotics club on Fridays during last period.

What is computer science?
Code.org has an excellent short video on what computer science is:
"Computer science is the field where people use the power of computers to solve big problems. Is there a difference between computer science and coding? Yes. Coding is a set of instructions you give to a computer.  Computer science is a more holistic view which includes coding, but also includes things like what to do with a really big set of data, how the internet works and it's societal impacts, and how to prepare and break down problems for solutions that use coding."...

What computer skills do we learn at school?
- Log in on a chromebook (or another device) with your school account, so you can access your BPS provided gmail account, collaborative google tools and many educational tools, all packed in your so called "digital backpack" and accessible to you with a one-click login via Clever (an educational portal).
- Explore what's in your digital backpack and how to use these resources at school and at home. For example if you need a book to write a book report on, read one on tumblebooks.com (login via clever)
- Keyboarding skills: We use Typing.com in grades 3-5 (and sometimes in 2nd grade) and dancematetypingguide.com for students who can't easily follow written instructions yet in 2nd grade. Typing.com has the advantage of keeping track of progress.
- Digital Citizenship
- Internet safety and etiquette
- Research skills on BPS approved sites that will give you safe and age appropriate results. Go to our school website jqselementary.org, click JQS Library, click Encyclopedia Britannica or Kids InfoBits.
- Google docs: Practice writing notes in a google doc, editing, formatting, inserting images, special features, citation, sharing the document with your teacher.
- Read books on tumblebooks.com and write book reports.
- Sometimes we play educational games to complement our ELA, Math and Art curriculum. Mostly in younger grades.
- Computer science:  We learn how to break down problems into solutions that use coding, based on code.org resources and curriculum. This includes learning the logic of how to write computer programs, like how to repeat instructions or how to make the computer decide between two instructions. It also includes implementing those solutions using computer coding.
- Computer coding includes the logic and the syntax of writing programs. Syntax is the set of rules on how to combine  instructions so the computer can understand them. Different programming languages use different syntax, but they all follow the same logic. At the elementary school level best is to use visual block style programming (drag and drop programming) which helps the students focus on learning the logic of coding, instead of struggling with typed syntax. It helps, because all commands are presented as choices in a menu, therefore it eliminates the easy-to-make mistakes of typed languages, such as forgetting a semicolon or the closing parentheses of a statement and then not being able to run your program.  Once you get the logic of the programming, you can chose to move on to a text based language - such as Java or Python - which can be more powerful than  visual programming.
- Visual programming languages we use at school:  Scratch Jr (in K2 & 1st grade), Scratch on Scratch.mit.edu and Blockly on code.org (in 2nd - 5th grade)

The ASEP (JQS after school enrichment program) offers further opportunities for JQS students to explore technology: Scratch coding, website design, lego club, digital art and more.  To register for the ASEP programs please email the coordinator helen.wong@boston.gov