Marana Unified School District

Marana Unified School District students are now being taught coding.

Courtesy of MUSD

High-tech careers offer many of the top-paying jobs of today and tomorrow, but they require workers who know how to write the code that make computers work.

Two Marana schools are going to immerse their students in a high-tech environment. 

Quail Run and Gladden Farms elementary schools will team with Code To The Future, the nation’s leading computer science program, to integrate computer science with a comprehensive curriculum. The goal is to create “an engaging, interactive, and fun learning environment.”

Code To The Future tries to use fun activities to get students interested in technology. Teachers at the schools will use video games like Minecraft and other new technology to create a cutting-edge learning environment for elementary students.

“The Marana Unified School District is honored to lead the way in capitalizing on Computer Science’s potential as a teaching tool,” states Dr. Doug Wilson, superintendent of the Marana Unified School District. “As a District committed to inspiring students to learn today and lead tomorrow, MUSD is ensuring students are provided with the skills necessary to be successful in an ever changing world. Students at these schools will have an opportunity to develop Coding skills as part of the daily curriculum. Along with the comprehensive curriculum, students will have access to Chromebook mobile devices and new collaborative furniture, creating an engaging, 

interactive and fun learning environment where we will be preparing students for the high growth, high demand jobs of the future.”

 Andrew Svehaug, CEO of Code To The Future, said “The District’s integration of computer science and use of Minecraft reflects student-centered mindset, ensuring that students want to come to school and engage in the learning process.”  Quail Run and Gladden Farms will implement the programs at the start of this school year in August. 

Gladden Farms Elementary will open their doors for the first time this school year and the innovative campus was designed to incorporate both technology and collaborative learning. 

The new programs will allow teachers to integrate computer science with curriculum content in English, language arts, math, science and social studies to create an inviting, fun learning environment. The goal is to provide students with the skills to for the high growth, high demand jobs of the future.

Teaching methods will include both programming and game design, giving students a well–rounded understanding of how to create with technology. 

“This is a paradigm shift for kids, transitioning them from being just players to being creators,” said Tamara Crawley, MUSD director of public relations.

Students will have access to Chromebook mobile devices and new classroom furniture to connect to curricular content as well as to each other. Once connected, students can collaborate to share ideas.

The district has made a commitment to implementing new technology and collaborative teaching strategies in the classroom. Both the new Gladden Farms school as well as the new building at Picture Rocks Elementary School have been designed to utilize mobile furniture and adaptable spaces that give teachers and students great flexibility in how they want to interact. Both the furniture and even parts of the room themselves are adaptable.

“Extensive research and best practice has shown that providing mobile devices and modern classroom furniture to support student’s ability to easily and comfortably interact with their teacher, fellow students, and content provides an optimal educational experience,” Crawley said.

As part of their Project Engage, the district is in the process of providing the adaptable furniture for every classroom as well as mobile devices such as Chromebooks and tablets to every student and teacher. The two middle schools were the first to get the upgrades last school year, while the high schools as well four elementary schools, including Gladden Farms and Rattlesnake Ridge, will be upgraded in upcoming school year. The rest of the district’s schools will be upgraded in the 2017-18 school year. 

Both the Code To The Future as well as Project Engage fit into the Gradual Release of Responsibility Instructional Framework (GRR) that encourages students to help direct their own learning. The district looked at a number of studies that all came to the same conclusion: “Students learn best when they know why they are learning what they are learning as they work together to solve reality based problems in a supportive and engaging environment.”

Gladden Farms Elementary School will open this August.

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