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  • Writer's pictureMelissa

Theme: "The Middle School Survival Guide"

Activities: Botjoy, Podcasting, Snacks, and Book Fair

Difficulties to Overcome: Snow date (think rain date), wind chill warning, school had been canceled for the next day

Menu: "Sliding Through the Halls" Hawaiian sliders, "Chex Me Out" snack mix, "Cookie Therapy" cookies, and "Drowning in My Tears" water

On Display: Student art work

Outcome: Success!

Every year in conjunction with the Scholastic Book Fair at our school, we host a Title 1 Literacy and Technology Night. This year's theme was "The Middle School Survival Guide." We featured books about surviving middle school: How to Survive Middle School by Donna Gephart and The Middle School series by James Patterson. We served snacks prepared by FACS2 students and displayed art students created during first semester.

Podcasting: The Middle School Survival Guide

We used Anchor to record students and parents as they gave advice on how to survive middle school. We'll edit the audio clips and share it as the first CMS podcast.


I learned about Botjoy from Mason Mason at the Google Innovator Academy in Stockholm, Sweden. During Literacy Night, students and their families created robots on the back of dominoes as part of an international art project to help promote positive support of others. These "bots" will be handed out as reminders to be brave, kind, joyful, creative, and inspirational. Learn more about Botjoy HERE.

Themed Snacks

Our FACS2 students developed themed snacks for the evening. They planned the menu, named the items, created the shopping list, and prepared the food. They'll add their work to their FACS portfolio to submit for state-level recognition projects.

Book Fair and Book Swap Table

Students and their families had a chance to visit the Scholastic Book Fair, which is super exciting because the closest book store is an hour and fifteen minutes away. We also hosted a book swap table for students to "Take a book, leave a book." We collected book donations ahead of time and had the table well stocked prior to the event. We made sure we had enough books for each kid to take one, even if they didn't have a book to trade in during the evening. We take the extra books to our local Little Free Libraries.

Does your school host a Literacy Night? What types of activities do you include?

  • Writer's pictureMelissa

It's the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements, recognized by the United Nations. Dmitri Mendeleev is credited with discovering the Periodic Table in 1869. Learn more about the celebrations at The International Year of the Periodic Table.

Check out these amazing collections:

Elemental Haiku

The Periodic Table with a haiku for each element developed by Mary Soon Lee. Hover over each element to read its haiku. Join the fun with the hashtag #ChemHaiku on Twitter. Website:

Photographic Periodic Table

Hover over the images to learn more about each element. Click on the element for photographic examples. Website:

TED-Ed Interactive Periodic Table

A video and lesson for every element! Website:

The Periodic Table in Pictures and Words

Click on the elements to see a close up each element in pictures and words. Website:

Google's Periodic Table of Elements

Visualization where the elements are sized by their frequency in the earth's crust. Website:

Periodic Stats

Click on the elements to learn history, general information, engineering, and more!



Communities are building real-life examples of the elements in interactive displays.

The Ever-Changing Periodic Table

An interactive display at The University of Toledo Website:

Interactive Periodic Table

Located at the Downside School in the United Kingdom


What are your favorite Periodic Tables?

The KC STEM Alliance hosted their first ever Computer Science Day on January 8, 2019.


The morning began with a session on Cybersecurity with Barry Cooper with Fishtech. We learned that with the current state of cybersecurity, employers are having a difficult time finding qualified people to fill open positions. There is currently a 0% cybersecurity unemployment rate and that there are 125 universities in the United States that offer a master's degree in cybersecurity. Trends include lack of available talent, shadow IT (think about times people install software without checking with the technology department), and security as a service (people want to purchase the service rather than monitoring it themselves). For school districts, BYOD policies make it more difficult to secure content. 2.0 cybersecurity trends include server-less multi-cloud security, SDN (Software Defined Networking), and DevOps.

As a business, cybersecurity companies are looking for the following "cyber competencies" in potential employees:

  • Real world financial skills (managing money, taxes, budgeting, credit)

  • Home care, purchasing, maintenance, and repair

  • Marriage and family skills

  • Survival and coping skills

General business competencies

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Customer service skills

  • Interviewing and resume skills

  • Communication skills

  • Time management skills

  • Management and leading people (cast a vision, influence people to follow it, carry on)

Technology skills

  • A+ certification (CompTIA) understanding hardware and how you put it together

  • Networking 101 (CCNA or similar) Do you know how layer 3 networks work?

  • Sec+ certification (CompTIA) security certification (at minimum)

  • Python / Javascript (are in demand)

Cyberlearning resources

Smart Cities

Aaron Deacon from KC Digital Divide spoke about the steps Kansas City, Missouri, has taken as a Smart City. The initiative includes the streetcar line, free public wifi backbone, and a plan to extend the Prospect MAX line, part of the DoT Smart City Challenge. They have installed 13 smart kiosks (hyper-local way-finding, event information, and nearby businesses information), smart parking and traffic signals, sensor- and video-equipped streetlights by Sensity (for parking, snowfall, infrared, and monitoring people), opt-in data collection from visitor smartphones, and open data APIs and SDKs. There is public access to the smart city data so teachers can use this with students, as we want them to data-literate and code-literate.

Characteristics of a digital city

  • Connectivity

  • Sensors/IoT

  • Real-time cop[ute/analytics

  • Plugged-in people

  • Data/algorithm driven

  • Lots of screens/digital interfaces

  • Dynamic economic environment

  • Rapidly changing symmetry of info (both directions)(

  • Global/local

School implications

  • Education as a vertical for innovation and adaptation

  • Education as a key element of the ecosystem

  • Build adaptive learners

Resources for educators

Insight from Industry Professionals

Two sessions featured industry professionals discussing diversity in computer science and providing a chance for networking. Edgar Palacios, with Latinx Education Collaborative, shared that 25% of incoming kindergartners across the United States are Latinx. It's vital that students see inclusive role models in computer science. We can do this by utilizing photographs and videos showcasing diverse populations and connecting with industry professionals that represent diverse backgrounds.

Shared wisdom from panel members and the networking session

  • When hiring, companies are looking for problem-solving abilities and technical skills (it's not about having the right answer but the potential employee's thought process in solving things)

Students need to learn

  • Test-driven development

  • Understand the ecosystem of why they are developing a system

  • Core concepts of version control

  • The ultimate goal of computer science is computational thinking

  • Make explicit the connection between unplugged activities and how it connects to programming

  • Awareness of the many types of careers that fall into a computer science or computer science related field

  • Ability to estimate how long it takes to complete a task

  • If coding, have students do Peer Reviews where small teams walk through the code and verbalize what it will do and how to fix errors

Featured Computer Science Curriculum Resources

I am a facilitator for the CS Discoveries curriculum in partnership with and Science City at Union Station. offers local workshops for educators for their K-5, 6-10, and 9-12 curriculum. You can find more information on their Professional Learning page. If you have questions about the CS Discoveries curriculum, feel free to reach out!

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