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New all-inclusive playground opens thanks to Racine teachers

photo of children playing on new playground

The Journal Times: Children both excited and apprehensive swung, slid, climbed and rocked on a shiny, new handicapped-accessible playground at Wadewitz Elementary on Friday.

The all-inclusive playground is a dream come true for the school community, but especially for the teachers on the playground committee who spent two years raising around $200,000 to purchase and install the structure.

“It’s very fulfilling to see over two years of hard work come to fruition,” said Lisa Johnson, teacher and playground committee member. “The smiles on the kids’ faces show it was worth it.”

The school hosted six ribbon cuttings on Friday, one for each class at the school, but the special education students got first crack at the “Wadewitz Dream Big Playground” that morning. School Board members, parents and playground committee members gathered to view the ribbon cutting and watch the students take a spin on the equipment.

The family of Katherine Pike, a first-grade student at Wadewitz who died in January, cut the ribbon. The family helped in fundraising by asking that memorials to their daughter be made to the playground fund.

“It was kind of bittersweet,” said Kat’s father, Jacob Pike, of attending the ribbon cutting.

Read the complete article on the new Racine playground.

Racine students introduced to new language in ‘Hour of Code’

photo of Racine students

The Journal Times: Computer code is the language of the future, and last week students at Red Apple Elementary as young as 5 years old began to learn about it.

In the school’s crowded library, kindergarten and first grade students huddled in front of laptops in pairs, working to move Lightbot from lighted square to lighted square. The youngsters stared at their computers in concentration, argued with their partners over the right moves and cheered in celebration when they got the moves rights as they played the online game that teaches users programming logic.

“Their level of excitement has excited me,” said Racine Unified Superintendent Eric Gallien, who attended the event on Thursday.

Higher Expectations for Racine County, along with Dream Hustle Code, a Chicago nonprofit, worked together to bring the Hour of Code pilot program to all students at Red Apple, Julian Thomas and Dr. Jones elementary schools last week. After seeing the results, Gallien said he hopes to expand the program next year.

The Hour of Code is an international movement that has reached tens of millions of students in more than 180 countries. The event, typically held in December, is a one-hour introduction to computer coding.

Read the complete article.

Elkhorn Area School District leading the way

image of Elkhorn students Elkhorn Area School District was recently recognized as a Project Lead The Way Distinguished District for providing access to transformative learning opportunities for its students through PLTW programs. The EASD is one of just over 30 districts nationwide to receive the honor.

PLTW is a nonprofit organization that serves millions of students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and teachers, in more than 10,500 schools across the U.S.

Jason Tadlock, district administrator, said he and the staff are proud of the exceptional STEM opportunities available for their students district-wide.

The PLTW Distinguished District recognition honors districts committed to increasing student access, engagement, and achievement in their PLTW programs. To be eligible for the designation, EASD had to have had 20 percent or more of its students in each grade participate in a PLTW program during the 2016-17 school year. The fact that 100 percent of students in grades K-8 are involved in PLTW programs is particularly unique and exceptional.

Read the complete article on the Elkhorn Area School District.

Washington-Caldwell receives national recognition for STEM education

The Journal Times: The Washington-Caldwell School District announced Monday that it has been recognized as a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Distinguished District for providing broad access to learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines through PLTW programs.

The district, serving the north end of the Town of Waterford, is one of just over 30 districts across the U.S. to receive this honor. PLTW is a nonprofit organization that serves K-12 students and teachers in over 10,500 schools across the U.S.

PLTW is designed to help students develop in-demand, transportable knowledge and skills through pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. As PLTW students progress through grades K-12, they engage in problem solving and process thinking, develop technical knowledge and skills, build communication skills, and explore career opportunities.

The recognition honors districts committed to increasing student access, engagement and achievement with PLTW programs. To be eligible for the designation, Washington-Caldwell had to have had 20 percent or more of its students in each grade, K-12, participate in a PLTW program during the 2016-17 school year. Washington-Caldwell had 100 percent participation, PLTW said.

Janesville student home build creates workforce pipeline

Janesville photo

Gazette Extra: Craig High School senior Chance Neumueller snapped a piece of wood-grain flooring into place in a corner closet with obtuse angles that gave it the shape of a baseball home plate.

Neumueller patted his split-leather tool apron, searching for his carpenter’s square. He had left the square somewhere in the 1,780-square-foot house on Cumberland Drive that he and 22 other Janesville School District high school students have spent the school year building.

Neumueller had just walked himself through cutting a piece of flooring to fit an odd angle.

Now he was pondering an ancient carpenter’s puzzle: Where did I set down the tool that I now need?

“It’s all learning, every step of the way. And the first thing you learn is it all takes a little more thinking and patience than you think it will,” Neumueller said.

Neumueller and 11 other students made up the afternoon group of Craig and Parker high schools’ advanced construction class, a program that for a full school year drops industrial arts students, mostly seniors, into the middle of a new home build. Several days a week, the students spend half their day working on site, building a new home.

Read the complete article on Janesville’s construction trades class.