Spotlight Mrs Kohrs

Profiling Technology Teacher Mrs. Kohrs

Ellyn Kohrs has been at Sea Crest for almost sixteen years. As the needs of our students have changed over that time, so has her curriculum.

Every day, Mrs. Kohrs brings her deep experience with youth development to teaching a curriculum that is fast evolving and gives our students the technology skills that will propel their academic careers and extracurricular passions.

The technology program Mrs. Kohrs has built is aligned along three overlapping but significant areas of the curriculum – physical computing, programming and computer skills. These skill areas work together to ensure our students, after their weekly technology classes in 2nd-8th grade and optional explorations in Middle School, can move ahead as conscientious digital citizens and creators in a digital world. Because Mrs. Kohrs works with our students across so many grades, she has the opportunity to ensure the program evolves along student interests, shifting projects and assessments to be in line with their passions and creating new middle school explorations that align with the current class’s curiosity. Her goal is always to help students develop confidence so that they can move from being consumers of technology to creators of technology.

Physical Computing is particularly powerful for sparking curiosity in our students, starting in the second grade. It allows them to incorporate code at grade-appropriate levels to control things in the physical world. Our second-grade classes, for example, started coding their Pro-Bots — turtle robots designed to look like yellow cars — which students can program with a keyboard on the device to move. If programming the car to move didn’t excite students enough on its own, some also put a pen through the car and programed the movement in specific shapes so that as the car drives, it draws on a piece of paper below it. In other grades, physical computing includes the use of “Makey Makey” boxes with Scratch. In middle school, physical computing will include Microbits in 7th grade and Arduino Circuit boards in eighth grade in the upcoming trimester. Also in middles school, students in an explorations class recently built and programmed robots that move without wheels. his way of bringing code to life helps students to understand how the physical world interacts with code to better understand and interact in the world in which they live.

Programming- To complement physical computing, students develop an appreciation for the intricacies of different coding languages in individual projects. In earlier years, this may include developing an animated game like our fourth graders will be doing later this year, or diving into vector and bitmap work like our fifth graders did when creating holiday cards in December and are doing now in their maze programming project. Our second graders have the chance to develop an understanding of code blocks through a “Pre-Reader Express” introduction to block coding. In Middle School core classes, students take on Javascript with deeper code work until in eighth grade they are going so far as to develop survey applications and the supporting databases. In Explorations classes in Middle School, students delve into deeper passion projects, such as coding music.

Computer Science Topics- At Sea Crest, we also teach our students to use and know their devices. From learning to use the Google Apps for writing early on and a review of proper email etiquette in lower grades to a deeper understanding of the internet and algorithms in middle school, our technology program makes sure students are set up for success. Earlier this year our third graders learned to use Adobe Spark to make web pages for a project they’d worked on. This also includes a basic understanding of the technology behind the technology; fifth graders spent several weeks exploring how computers work and store information by looking at binary language, and how it applies to numbers, text and images. Beyond learning about computers, it is critical that we prepare our students to use computers to learn and to do so critically. This pillar of our technology program also dives into knowing what information is reliable on the internet and understanding some related ethical issues as students begin to use their devices more fully in Middle School.

Just as technology evolves, Mrs. Kohrs will ensure our technology teaching will evolve, but always it will come from a focus on working closely with our students to unlock their passions.

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