Arkansas: Coding and Robotics in Every Grade

Fort Smith School District

Fort Smith was the first Arkansas school district to connect to the state’s upgraded 1Mbps per student network. The district now takes advantage of many digital tools and strategies, including a 1:1 program in grades 3-12; software that screens K-2 students for dyslexia and allows teachers to immediately identify which students are struggling; and an elective drone program with pilot certification for high school students.

Classes at all levels and across all content areas incorporate coding and robotics, not just to keep students engaged, but also to help them develop 21st century skills. Younger students use educational robots to learn how to code and solve problems, and all 19 elementary schools have robotics teams, some of which have competed at regional and state levels. Middle and high school students use more advanced robots in their math, science, and English classes to demonstrate their knowledge and problem-solving skills. Classes that incorporate virtual and augmented reality are especially popular.

To support teachers, the district has “job-embedded” professional development, where technology integration specialists work with teachers in their classrooms, in real-time. The specialists show teachers and students how to use digital tools effectively for both instruction and assessment. This helps mitigate teacher concerns about the time required to learn and implement them – and also builds additional digital expertise and capacity in each school.

Source: EducationSuperHighway and District Administration