Coding and Computer Science at Sea Crest

Our Computer Science program extends far beyond one week of Hour of Code. In fact, we use Hour of Code as a kickoff to our second trimester Unit of Coding for the Lower School classes. In Middle School, we continue to offer a variety of Computer Science Explorations, including a full-year Computer Science class that allows students to dive deeply into Javascript.

We have been offering Computer Science opportunities for more than a decade. In the early years, Comp Sci was limited to Middle School Coding Electives, which focused on Scratch, Karel the Robot, Alice, Greenfoot, and HTML. In 2012, we expanded our program to begin in Second Grade, using online resources and Pro-Bot programmable floor robots. By the time the first Hour of Code event was held in 2013, there were many more offerings tailored for younger students, such as Kodable and other iPad-based apps that taught programming basics. We now offer Computer Science from Kindergarten through Eighth Grade and are in the process of integrating physical computing using ProBots, Makey Makeys, WeDo Robotics, OzoBots, and Arduino.

So why do we teach all students Computer Science? Does everyone need to be a programmer when they grow up? The answer is that Computer Science can apply to every field: our students learn logic, problem-solving, and design skills. They take complex ideas and break them down into smaller parts. They work collaboratively and with persistence in the face of frustration. The creative aspects of coding are also often overlooked: creating interactive stories, animations, games, and websites. Coding, in fact, is all about turning ideas into reality.

“I like the terms ‘hard fun’ or ‘healthy struggle’ to describe some of the learning processes associated with programming,” says Technology Integration Specialist Ellyn Kohrs. “One of my students in the Full Year Programming Exploration recently said, ‘It is very fun and it makes me think hard.'”


What’s New in Art Class

Art at Sea CrestOur new Art Teacher, Mr. Birdsong, brings 15 years of teaching experience to Sea Crest. He is a professional cartoonist who has taught at schools in Palo Alto, Florida, and Japan. He holds a B.F.A. in Graphic Design from Howard University, and he recently published a new book called Livin’ in Japan Ain’t Easy, featuring 200 of his comic strips.

Read below for updates from Mr. Birdsong’s fall classes!

Kindergarteners are becoming comfortable with many different media, including oil pastels, watercolor, and acrylic paint. They have made abstract art and learned about primary and secondary colors.

First Graders started the year with self-portraits and have moved on to drawing oil pastel landscapes. They are learning about foreground and background and how to paint using multiple colors at the same time.

Second Graders illustrated what they might look like as animals. Using a chart of facial expressions, they worked on drawing six different portraits, coloring each one in a Pop Art style.

Third Graders are learning to draw 3D geometric shapes so that they can create realistic landscapes. They went outside to do observational drawings and are now creating fantasy landscapes from their imaginations.

Fourth Graders used mixed media to create self-portraits at the beginning of the year. They then designed their own anthropomorphic animals and drew them from different points of view. They have used this design to sculpt their characters out of clay and create color illustrations of their characters interacting with humans.

Fifth Graders drew illustrations for Coastside Land Trust seed packets, which were sold as a fundraiser during the Pumpkin Festival. For their next project, they created colorful self-portraits on transparency paper using photographs and acrylic paint.

Middle Schoolers enjoyed two Art Explorations during first trimester. In Mixed Media Painting, they painted on canvas boards and used a drip technique and small objects to create colorful textures. In order to create paintings with raised elements, they used papier-mâché and foil. In Visual Storytelling, students learned techniques for laying out a comic page and practiced how to tell stories through art. They used materials such as bristol board paper, non-photo blue pencils, Pigma Micron pens, oil pastels, and colored pencils.


Environmental Stewardship

This year at Sea Crest, our programmatic focus is Environmental Stewardship.

Our vision for the program is that…

  1. our learners will feel emotionally connected to the natural world;
  2. students will understand basic ecological concepts;
  3. their actions and habits will show that they are responsible stewards of their local and global communities.

Teachers from all grade levels are working together to help students understand that when we throw things “away,” they don’t really go away. Click here to view “Reuse,” “Recycle,” and “Landfill” signs we made for our classrooms.

More Environmental Stewardship news:

  • There is now a water bottle filling station in the Middle School in addition to the one in the gym. Everyone is encouraged to use reusable water bottles!
  • Fifth Graders prepared our garden for planting as part of their Science curriculum.
  • Environmental Stewardship Coordinator Michaela O’Connor is leading an after-school gardening club as part of Extended Day.


First Grade: November Update

Dear First Grade Families,

Our classrooms are bursting with excitement. Our bulletin board shows all the things that we are thankful for this season. Please stop by with your child and admire their hard work and gratitude!

I am thankful for my dog Max

Here is what we have been up to the past weeks:


We have added yet another decoding strategy as a tool to help when we get stuck on a word we are reading. Asking “does it make sense?” is a way for your child to self-monitor as they read to ensure that comprehension is happening. After all, the whole reason we are reading is to understand! During your nightly reading homework time, instead of correcting the words they misread, prompt them by asking if it makes sense the way they read the sentence. This should encourage them to return to the word that is out of place and use the other word attack strategies we have previously practiced: Look at the Picture, Get Your Mouth Ready, Chunk and Cover, find Little Words in Big Words, and Skip and Return.


Our How to Books are nearing completion! We will continue to put the polishing touches on the pages that explain the steps in the process and then begin adding things such as a dedication page, a new words page for our bold words, and an about the author page.

Word Study

Over the past few weeks, students have been working with consonant digraphs. Digraphs are two letters that when put together make one sound. The digraphs we have been exploring are SH, CH, and TH. The students have been brainstorming words with these sounds at the beginning and ending of words, along with completing activities and playing games to reinforce the concept.


We completed our fifth math assessment last week. Students showed what they learned about plane shapes as well as solid shapes such as cubes, cones, cylinders, spheres, rectangular prisms, and pyramids. They also recognized shapes divided into equal halves or fourths, and shaded parts of the whole shape. This week, we begin to count, read, and write numbers 11 to 20. As we recognize the numbers as one group of ten and a particular number of ones, it will set the stage for the concept of place value. This is a key stage and sets the foundation for developing the idea of tens and ones and being able to make sense of two-digit numbers.


The students have begun our second unit of study, Testing Materials. We will continue to investigate the materials in our First Grade Museum by performing tests in our classrooms. The students have learned what a ‘fair test’ is: a test where only one variable changes, and have worked in pairs, following directions in a book to build a ‘Puffer Machine.’ Then they tested their machines on a collection of objects made of wood, paper, fabric, plastic metal and glass. They recorded their findings in their science journals.

Social Studies

Our school study continues as we have started exploring maps. Last week we investigated maps from many different places; states, countries, cities, towns, theme parks, etc. We talked about side view and birds eye view maps. The students mapped their lunches from both perspectives. We talked about the importance of information on the map using a legend or a key. The students mapped their bedrooms at home and did a fabulous job! All this map work has led to us mapping Sea Crest School. We have created a legend and have started walking the school, map in hand, marking and charting where everything is located.


Mrs. Kohrs has joined us to lead Technology classes in our classroom. We created a picture that showed how we are connected to our classmates and a holiday themed web of related ideas. The app is called Popplet and there are free versions available. A few students have asked to continue this learning at home!

Innovation Lab

Last week we decided to add a challenge to a few of the iLab stations. At the domino station, the challenge was to work together to build the longest domino train. With connecting cubes, the challenge was to build the tallest structure, and with wooden blocks it was to build a structure using only one piece at the base. The students enjoyed the challenges and are asking for more.

Character Education/Mindfulness

After our K-8 Assembly last Friday, we met with our Learning Buddies to practice grouping feelings according to four zones of regulation. The Blue Zone is for emotions such as being tired or sad. The Green Zone is calm or happy. The Yellow Zone is for when we begin to feel frustrated or overwhelmed, and the Red Zone is where we feel angry or out of control. As our awareness of our emotions increases, we understand what tools to use to help increase our self-control.

Environmental Stewardship

Our Friday assembly concentrated on how and why we should become stewards of the world. We hope that our students will think more about where their things come from and where they go after we use them. We cannot really “throw things away” because nothing truly goes “away.” We will strive all year to reduce the amount of waste we make, reuse what we can, and only then send what is left to the landfill.

Additionally, we had the opportunity last week to get out to the garden with our Fifth Grade Learning Buddies. We planted fava beans and will be checking on their progress and helping to tend and water them in the weeks to come.

We are thankful for you and all you do!


Your First Grade Team


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