University Schools

Elementary School Information

We know that education is a team process and that schools and parents must work closely to provide our students with the best possible educational environment. Together we can give every student the chance to make the most of their educational experience.

A Message From Our Principal

Happy December! This month is a time of family, friends, food, and technology. Whether it is the big game or latest movies on the big screen, Facebook, Snapchat, or Twitter on our tablets or smart phones or computer games like Minecraft and Fortnight on our PCs, many of us will be spending our vacations with technology. Like all things in life, I find that too much of anything probably isn’t healthy in the long run. 

As I watch more and more kids at restaurants, riding in cars, just sitting waiting for classes, or at a sporting event on their devices, I wonder what all this technology is doing to our youngest and still developing brains. I have come across some pretty interesting articles lately that talk about limiting technology for not only our youngest children, but all our k–12 students. In many of these articles, it is recommended that kids under the age of two not have any technology at all. None. And, kids under five should only have one hour or less a day. Finally, many experts are now saying two hours of screen time a day is all children should have as a teenager. With current levels for some ‘tweens and teens being reported at eight to 10 hours a day of screen time, it seems appropriate to start regulating our technology use as a society.

You are probably aware of the effects that technology has on lowering our activity levels and limiting some attention spans, but the over use of technology has been shown to affect most every area of our children’s lives. Some of these areas include: sleep patterns are adversely effected, less self-soothing and self-regulating abilities, less social recognition of their own and other’s emotions, aggression patterns tend to be higher, grades tend to be lower, and on and on.

This December, let’s all make a concerted effort to limit our technology use, reconnect with our families and friends while pulling out the good old-fashioned game boards, puzzles, and arts/crafts supplies for entertainment. Or, like we say almost every month, find a good paperback book and go on a tech-free adventure.  

Thanks again for attending your child’s parent teacher conferences. The research on your continued involvement in school and your child’s future success rates are well documented. For more on our holiday parties, music concerts, Giving Tree opportunities, and other school happenings, check out the school’s website and your teacher’s calendar. 

Have a wonderful holiday season, and thanks again for choosing to partner with University Schools. 

Michael Mazurana

Michael Mazurana
Elementary Principal
mmazurana@universityschools.com

    Elementary News
    Computer Programming for Kids

    Are your kids spending too much time playing mindless computer games? Encourage them to use their minds and write their own computer games instead. Of course, they probably won’t be cranking out a competitor to “Angry Birds” right away, but that doesn’t mean kids won’t love to write programs. Just because they can’t play basketball like Michael Jordon doesn’t stop them from loving to play basketball. Computer programming is powerful and fun, and kids don’t need to become professional programmers to learn from the activity. Computer programming teaches kids problem solving, logical (computational) thinking, and determination, and it fosters creativity. The best part is you don’t have to know anything about computer programming to get your kids started. You simply head to the Internet for the software of your choice.

    Scratch
    Scratch (a programming language developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and supported by the National Science Foundation) is a free, fun, visual, programming language for kids from third grade on up. They can create games, interactive stories, animations, music, and art. They simply drag and drop the code blocks onto the programming area, and then they can instantly see the result. The different commands snap together. This avoids all the frustrating syntax errors of typing computer code while keeping all the mind expanding experiences of computer programming. You can view this short video to see what Scratch can do.

    Kodu
    Kodu (sponsored by Microsoft Research FuseLabs) is another free visual programming language for kids. It has a very specific video game focus. Kids begin with their own story and develop the characters, worlds, and actions to tell their story as a video game. In Kodu the programming code is icon based. Kodu, which is Windows based, also has an Xbox 360 version available for a fee of 400 Points (about $5).

    Ladybug Mazes
    Ladybug Mazes (part of a Utah State University collection of interactive math manipulatives) introduces the concept of computer programming to kids as young as kindergarten. Kids make a plan for the ladybug to follow by choosing step blocks and turn blocks, which appear at the bottom of the screen. When they click the play button, the ladybug follows the command blocks they have chosen. Most kindergarteners need help getting started, but they generally catch on quickly.  Kids can play Ladybug Mazes online for free.

    Programming software designed for kids is a great way to move your student from game player to game designer, from consumer to producer. Try one today; you will be glad you did.