Future Ready and Iowa Core are critical components within the Sioux City Community School District – components that work together and impact student outcomes.
The Sioux City Community School District has been designated a #FutureReady district by the U.S. Department of Education. The characteristics of #FutureReady districts include:
- Building the right infrastructure;
- Imagining the classrooms of the future;
- Ensuring teachers are ready to utilize and benefit from technology;
- Preparing administrators to lead and support teachers as they utilize technology; and
- Including parents, community members, school board members, and others in discussions.
Learn more about the U.S. Department of Education’s #FutureReady program.
We know that the future for our current students will include technology. There is a great demand within the United States for skilled workers with degrees in computer science. Gary Beach, in CIO, recently reported that there are 120,000 new jobs created each year in the United States that require a computer science degree and there are 49,000 individuals acquiring the degree annually. There are three programs in the Sioux City Community School District that address technology skills for students (and teachers) and prepare students to be Future Ready.
We took what we learned from the U.S. Department of Education about being #FutureReady, combined that with industry needs to prepare students to be Future Ready when entering the workforce and purposefully integrated quality instruction rooted in the Iowa Core standards.
Sioux City Career Academy offers 30 pathways for students. Each pathway is a career-focused sequence of high school courses that integrates core academic knowledge with technical and occupational skills to provide students with a pathway to post-secondary education and careers. Students can follow a pathway from start to finish or can explore a variety of possible career opportunities. Visit our Sioux City Career Academy website.
Computer Programming Specialty Elementary School
Students at Loess Hills Computer Programming Specialty Elementary School learn, beginning in kindergarten, fundamentals of computer programming. Core subject material taught while infusing learning with technology skills, concepts and tools, prepares students to be productive citizens in an ever-increasing technological world. Teachers incorporate interdisciplinary teaching and daily technology instruction emphasizing programming (the process of writing and maintaining the source code of a computer), offering students opportunities to develop creativity, analytical thinking, and problem-solving. Students master the Iowa Core standards in a collaborative, multi-disciplined approach, with technology continuously woven into every aspect of a child’s learning. Recently Loess Hills Computer Programming Specialty School developed a Blueprint for the State explaining the steps taken to become a Computer Programming Specialty Elementary School.
The “Computer Science is Elementary” grant through the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council plans to replicate the success of Loess Hills Computer Programming Specialty Elementary School. Six high-poverty elementary schools will be transformed and showcased as they develop computer science education. The Loess Hills Blueprint serves as a resource for Iowa educators to use as they develop an application.
#FutureReady Cohort Program
Since 2017, the #FutureReady Cohort program provides teachers from elementary, middle, and high schools throughout the Sioux City Community School District with training on instructional approaches that highlight the use of technology to personalize student learning. Selected teams of teachers participate in intensive summer training where they work in teams to outline tangible ways of incorporating digital tools with instructional units they create and/or revise. At the end of the summer, the teachers have new lesson plans and instructional materials aligned with the Iowa Core standards.
At the elementary level, teachers have created lessons on sequencing, estimation, foundational reading skills and problem solving that incorporate robots. Using a grid with numbers, pictures or text, the teacher creates the basis for problem-solving challenges. Students then use coding to program a robot known as a Bee-Bot to hover over the cell in the grid they think correctly solves the given problem. At the high school level, geometry and physics are merged in one course. To expand students’ learning beyond the classroom and engage the community, teachers offer authentic project-based learning opportunities to the students based on their interests. One of the learning experiences culminated in the students developing proposals for local businesses on ways to save energy and reduce costs to their businesses based on an energy audit that was completed.
The Sioux City Career Academy, Loess Hills Computer Programming Specialty School and #FutureReady Cohort program start with an understanding of the Iowa Core standards. The skills and concepts contained in the Iowa Core standards form the foundation for instruction. Tools, such as Bee-Bots, and instructional strategies, like inquiry-based learning, engage students in a new way. Students are taking charge of their own learning. Because students are engaged in more meaningful learning, it is leading to deeper learning outcomes. Sioux City Community School District students will enter college and/or careers a step ahead of the competition and Future Ready.