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West Jordan Middle School students are using morning announcements to highlight a number of inspirational black history heroes during the month of February, which is Black History Month. Some Utah Jazz players like Donovan Mitchell and Derrick Favors are doing the same on a three-part Youtube series called “Black History Heroes.”

On today’s episode of the Supercast, we hear from some Utah Jazz players featured in the Youtube series. But first, we head out to West Jordan Middle School where morning announcements are about to begin.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. West Jordan Middle School students are using morning announcements to highlight a number of inspirational black history heroes during the month of February, which is Black History Month. Some Utah jazz players like Donovan Mitchell and Derrick Favors are doing the same in a three part YouTube series called "Black History Heroes." On today's episode of the Supercast we hear from some Utah Jazz players featured on the YouTube series. But first we head out to West Jordan Middle School where morning announcements are about to begin:

Dixie Garrison:
So the staff and students give me a heartbeat. Today is Thursday, February 25th, and it is an even day today. During Pride Time, we will be showing a video in the auditorium about the Utah Jazz players and their heroes. This video centers around Black History Month. You should have already signed up through efficiency under Mr. Hunter for Black History Month.

Student:
For Black History Month the Black and Proud Crew will be highlighting black Americans, drought history. If you're able to tell Ms. Monson or Ms. Gibbons all the names throughout the week, you will win.

Student:
Our spotlight for today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Martin was an African American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and a leader in the Civil Rights Movement in 1955 until his assassination in 1968.

Dixie Garrison:
And as always, we love you. We care about you. Learning is important. Being here is important. Let's have a fantastic Thursday. Okay.

Anthony Godfrey:
I'm here at West Jordan Middle school talking with student members of the Black and Proud Crew on one of the days that they have been honoring Black History Month with announcements that honor black figures in history. And so I'm going to talk with Camden. Tell me a little bit about the highlights that have been happening this month.

Student:
You've been highlighting all these different African-Americans for example, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me your name.

Student:
Jerome Miles.

Anthony Godfrey;
Jerome, what is your favorite figure that's been highlighted this month?

Student:
Jesse Owens.

Anthony Godfrey:
Jesse Owens. Tell me about Jesse Owens.

Student:
Well, he was a track star and I liked sports. So that's mainly why, I picked him.  I like sports.

Anthony Godfrey:
And it took some courage on his part to compete in some of those events.

Student:
Yeah, I did.

Anthony Godfrey:
And Rosa Parks. Why is that?

Student:
Because she made a stand for what she believed in to sit on the bus and she was brave enough to sit there, knowing that she was going to get arrested.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me your name.

Student:
My name is Shoday.

Anthony Godfrey:
Shoday what figure stood out for you?

Student:
Ruby Ridges because she was the first black girl to go to a white school and it was crazy because back then it wasn't normal for black and white people to go to the same school. So since she was the first person that was a black of color to go to school, it was like crazy. She went through a bunch of stuff at such a young age and she put up with it too. She didn't complain because she knew that she went to a good school. So she went through all that stuff, knowing that grown people and little kids were being rude because of the color of her skin. And that has a big part in history. And now, today, everybody goes to the same school.

Anthony Godfrey:
We can kind of take it for granted now almost that that everyone goes to school together.

Student:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me your name.

Student:
Hazel.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about your favorite to figure that's been highlighted this month.

Student:
Martin Luther King Jr. as well, just because there's so much to learn about him and so many different things that he did.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me more about what the Black and Proud Crew does. I see that you have a painting activity this Friday. Is that right? Tell me a little bit about that.

Student:
This Friday, people who signed up are going to meet here. We're having a paint night where we can learn how to paint a picture of the elephant that Jerome has picked for us. And it's everyone who signed up to join and it would just be a fun learning experience.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's a really cool looking painting, and I would be very impressed with myself if I was ever to paint that. So I really wish I could come to your activity. What other things have been sponsored by the Black and Proud Crew?

Student:
Friday, it was the last two weeks ago, there were kids coming in and, it depends on how many kids came. So we did a King of the Court type of play. There'll be five people on the team. And so on each team, there's five kids and whoever won that would stay on the court and another group of five would come on and whoever won the whole thing got candy. Well, everybody got candy.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, there's a good event. Everybody gets candy. That's a good start.

Student:
Everybody got candy. We just felt better.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. It sounds as if you've had a great variety of activities. Let's talk with Ms. Monson. You are the advisor for the Black and Proud Crew, is that correct?

Teacher:
Yes, it's me Christa Gibbons and Chelsea Chaco, who are the advisors for the students.

Anthony Godfrey:
What are some of the other activities that the Black and Proud Crew has been involved in?

Teacher:
So we hosted NEMA a couple of weeks ago. And along with NEMA, they showed us one an art featuring black heritage and black history. And so he talks about the textile of the art. And then after they talked about the art piece, we watched Levered Community, which highlighted a lot of black Americans in Utah. We had like a black pastor and talked about how his life was growing up. And we had the first black teacher in Davis District and how she was able to actually reach one of her students in the third grade. And so then they became a teacher. And so it just talks about the different lives of people living in the State of Utah and how they were able to progress through their certain trials.

Anthony Godfrey:
And every day of Black History Month, there's been another historical figure featured?

Teacher:
Yeah. So in January we meet every Friday with the students. They came up with a PowerPoint and so they picked all the people. We had Beyonce, Jesse Owens, Barack Obama. So the kids came up with who they wanted to spotlight, they found pictures for it. They found the excerpts and they put it in the PowerPoint that we show and share with the rest of the school. So every day they're able to pick someone who they wanted to spotlight and highlight.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's a great way to celebrate black history month. And it sounds like from talking with the students, they've learned a lot about black history that they weren't previously aware of.

Speaker 3:
That's our goal,

Anthony Godfrey:
Stay with us. When we come back, we hear from Donovan, Mitchell and Derrick favors talking about their black history heroes.

Speaker 3:
If you're ready to start your child on the path to personalized learning, we are ready to help. The Jordan virtual learning Academy is coming to Jordan school district in the 20 2122 school year three new schools will be opening as part of the Academy, Rocky peak, virtual elementary school, Kelsey peak, virtual middle school and Kings peak high school. Each school will have their own principal and teachers and each will give students a choice in their own learning. The schools will offer synchronous learning, which is teachers providing real time live online instruction and asynchronous learning where teachers provide videotaped instruction for learning on a student's schedule to register your student in the Jordan virtual learning Academy, visit connect Jordan district. Welcome back.

Anthony Godfrey:
As we told you earlier, some Utah jazz players are featured in a new series talking about their black history heroes, Donovan Mitchell's hero is the late baseball great Jackie Robinson. Here's what Donovan had to say. You know, for me, obviously growing up, being, you know, from a baseball background, I I've always looked at Jackie Robinson as one of those guys. Who's a pioneer in the game. You know, you know, you look at the way he, the way he, what he had to go through from, from racial injustice to you, the famous story of him getting cleated, you know, an ankle that you had to go through. So many different hurdles and walls to, and obstacles to become who he was, who he was as a player and as a person. And what he stood for some that always stands out to me, from myself coming up, just being able to watch a guy, to see a guy who not only transcended the game with his play, but how he dealt with people off the, off the field.

Anthony Godfrey:
You know, he went through so many vigorous things just to be able to play the game baseball that he loved. And for me, my parents my coaches, everyone talked about Jackie Robinson as a hero because he was just that he was a guy that went out here and led his game. Did the talking, no matter how many threats, no matter how much stuff was kind of going on in his personal life, being the first black, a black player in the major leagues, but he just went out there and did his thing and, you know, did it in such with such grace and such honor. And didn't really let all the other noise affect that and transcended the game for us. African-American men, Derrick favors chose the late us representative, John Lewis, as his hero think John Lewis the reasons why I'm from Atlanta, you know, he's from Atlanta.

Anthony Godfrey:
He did a lot of great things. He recently passed away and that was sort of a big thing in the community for us. And I mean, just all the things he's done in his lifetime to, you know make a positive impact in the African-American community and also in, in in the country as well. But he did a lot of great things like from, you know, marching with Martin Luther King on winning numerous awards. He just a great role model, a great person who who thought about everybody else who thought about uplifting everyone. And you know, he was one of my heroes, so you're never too young or too old to, you know, make a difference, no matter what it is. And you can hear from more Utah jazz players in their series, black history heroes on the Utah jazz YouTube channel. Thanks for listening to this episode of the super cast. And remember education is the most important thing you will do today. We'll see you out there.

Show Audio Transcription

Is your child spending too much time playing video games? Is video game addiction a real problem among kids and teens today?

On this episode of the Supercast, we talk to school psychologist, Dustin Fullmer who actually teaches a video game addiction class at the Jordan Family Education Center. It is a class that is more popular than ever before as parents try to figure out if video gaming has become an unhealthy habit for their own children and what can be done to turn things around.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. Is your child spending excessive time playing video games? Is video game addiction a real problem among kids and teens? Today on this episode of the Supercast, we talk with school psychologist, Dustin Fullmer, who actually teaches a video game addiction class at the Jordan Family Education Center in Jordan School District. It's a class that's more popular than ever before as parents try to figure out if video gaming has become an unhealthy habit for their own children.

Anthony Godfrey:
All right, we are here at Joel P Jenson Middle School to talk with some students about how they feel about video games or which video games they like best and what they like about them. Tell me your name please.

Student:
I'm Landon.

Anthony Godfrey:
Landon. What video game do you play the most right now?

Student:
Definitely Minecraft.

Anthony Godfrey:
Minecraft. Now that's a very creative game. What do you like about playing Minecraft?

Student:
Mainly party games on it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Just tell me a little bit more about that.

Student:
Well, Minecraft is a survival game, explore someone's creativity and challenge one's survivability. So last deal on a Minecraft so far is called high pixel. I spent 700 hours on a single game mode.

Anthony Godfrey:
700 hours.

Student:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Are there some things that you didn't get to do because you were doing Minecraft?

Student:
Not really.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. So how did it feel after doing 700 hours of Minecraft?

Student:
Like about halfway through, I got phone down, so I stopped playing full volume.

Anthony Godfrey:
How many hours would you say you play in a day?

Student:
Three.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. So you just consistently play and after the 700 hours, did you get to where you wanted it to be in Minecraft? Did you accomplish what you were hoping to accomplish?

Student:
Most of India.

Anthony Godfrey:
What do you like most about playing video games?

Student:
It's an escape from reality.

Anthony Godfrey:
All right. Tell me your name.

Student:
I'm Brandon.

Anthony Godfrey:
Brandon, what video games do you play most?

Student:
Well, I usually like to play on my phone. I like to play Geometry Dash a lot.

Anthony Godfrey:
Geometry Dash. I haven't heard of Geometry Dash. Tell me about that.

Student:
Well, it sounds like a math game, but it's honestly really not. Basically, you're this cube and you jumped over spikes and it's a game of rhythm and timing and memorization.

Anthony Godfrey:
So jumping in, avoiding things, actually matches up with some of the video games that I used to play back in the 1900s. Have you ever heard of Pitfall?

Student:
No. I don't think I have.

Anthony Godfrey:
How about Activision?

Student:
I've heard of it.

Anthony Godfrey:
I think that's like a video game company. It's very well done. And how about Atari?

Student:
I've heard of that.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. Yeah. I used to play Atari and Pong. Have you ever played Pong?

Student:
No.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. I need to bust out some Pong because I still have my old one from the 1970s. Do your parents play video games at all?

Student:
No. My friends don't play video games, as far as I know at least.

Anthony Godfrey:
So maybe undercover of night, after you're in bed, they sneak down and play your MLB games?

Student:
No, I don't think so.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's probably too confusing for them. All right. We wouldn't want parents to be too confused. All right. Thank you very much. What's your name?

Student:
Maricio.

Anthony Godfrey:
Maricio. What video games do you like to play?

Student:
Survival games like Tommy Gaze, kind of survival games.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's a whole kind of category. Tell me, what are some of the survival games that you play at the last of us?

Student:
It's kind of an apocalypse game. You have to go complete the mission and they give you obstacles.

Anthony Godfrey:
Do you have to fight by many means some enemies? So fighting zombies, much like just day to day life in junior high.

Student:
Sure.

Anthony Godfrey:
Have you ever heard of Big Duck?

Student:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
You have heard of Tick Tack?

Student:
Yeah, I play a lot of old things.

Anthony Godfrey:
Really. Have you played Big Duck?

Student:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
And do you enjoy blowing up a little lizard dragons as much as I do sometimes?

Student:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Do you ever play video games with your parents?

Student:
Old games sometimes. They don't play video games too much. They usually work and stuff.

Anthony Godfrey:
So what's your name?

Student:
McKay.

Anthony Godfrey:
What video games are you playing these days?

Student:
I like to play shooter games. So for example, like Rainbow Six Siege and like Overwatch. They're two different kinds of games, but one is more like you help out your teams complete a task and one's more current.

Anthony Godfrey:
Do your parents ever play Overwatch or watch you play?

Student:
My dad. My dad's family is more like on the video game side, but my mom was kind of against it.

Anthony Godfrey:
What do you like about playing the game?

Student:
I like that you can just make up tactics to go through any type of building, like go through the side, go through below them or on top and that you can just find different ways to get through and escape from that.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you liked the strategy and problem solving that's involved.

We're here talking with Dustin Former, School Psychologist at Copper Hills High School, who will be about video game addiction for the timely topics series available at the Jordan Family Ed Center. Dustin, thanks for joining us.

Dustin:
It's great to be here.

Anthony Godfrey:
We talked on podcast about the Jordan Family Ed Center, and I just couldn't resist when I heard that someone gave a presentation on video game addiction. I couldn't resist talking with you and asking about that because it seems to be much more prevalent than it was pre-pandemic. Are you noticing that?

Dustin:
Yeah, across the board, I'm noticing a lot more dependency on technology. In general, we're all kind of forced to. Well, here I am, talking to you virtually in front of my computer screen. We're all kind of forced to be a little bit more dependent on technology these days. But with that, there's a big rise of addiction to every single aspect of technology, especially video games.

Anthony Godfrey:
When you think about video game addiction, do you first just think about addictive behaviors in general to start with?

Dustin:
Definitely. And that's what I tried to make very clear in the course or the presentation that I give to parents is that in order to understand what's going on with video gaming addiction, we need to understand addiction itself, what exactly that is because video game addiction isn't really any different from any other type of addiction.

Anthony Godfrey:
So what are some of the characteristics of addiction that would be universal?

Dustin:
So it's important to focus on the fact that anything can be addicting. I was joking around earlier with some people, just that anything, even healthy things such as working out or reading or anything like that, can become addictive. And what that really leads to is understanding that when some sort of habits or some sort of a task that you do too much to the point of becoming dependent and to the point of it disrupting life activities, such as taking care of yourself, eating, sleeping, or doing things like your job or in the case of kids, their schoolwork. And so that's when something becomes addictive.

Anthony Godfrey:
What would you suggest to parents to help prevent this from happening in the first place? Say that their child has been playing more and more lately and they're worried about things getting out of hand.

Dustin:
I would say that it kind of goes with the whole saying of that best time to plant a tree is 300 years ago. The second best time is right now. If you're going to introduce video games into a kid's life, as soon as you do that, set limitations, set expectations as to what that should look like. If you just buy the new X-Box or new PlayStation or get them hooked up on online gaming through the computer and then just say, have at it, it's inevitably going to lead to problems. Most likely kids are really bad at regulating and that's a proven fact. And so, as soon as you introduce video games into a kid's life, set expectations, say, you can have this, it's going to be a fun thing for you. However, we need to limit how much time we're doing it, or you can only play it after you've finished all your homework and I've double checked on that. Some sort of boundary to set right from the get-go. If a kid has already been playing and you now want to do that once again, it's great to have that conversation of what do you think is reasonable? Let's set some boundaries, let's set some expectations,

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay. To use it as a reward, does that create more problems or can that be an effective way of containing video game time?

Dustin:
I feel like rewards or PR are great. And when it comes to rewards for expected behaviors, it's whatever is motivational to the kid. You know, one kid may be motivated by outdoor play. One kid may be motivated by immediate video games and so if that's the motivation you can find, you know, if you do all your chores, I'll give you additional time on the system to play your games today, then that's great. I don't see it as being bad. Of course, once it comes to the point where the kid is constantly trying to wager and do those addictive-type behaviors, where there's an obvious dependency, then he might need to cut back. I would say off the top of my head, rewards are a great thing to do no matter what they are.

Anthony Godfrey:
Now, when you said wagering, I want to talk about that because that's something that my son does quite a bit of. I'm not labeling him an addict. However, it seems that whenever I say, okay, you got 30 minutes to play this game, invariably, when I come in after 30 minutes, he says I'm right in the middle of this, I just need 10 more minutes to finish this. And so there's always some other portion of the quest or phase of the game that must be finished before he ends his game. Do you have any advice on that because there's always a bargain being struck when time is up.

Dustin:
Right. A huge emphasis that I go through with my presentation is understanding video games a little bit better and like makes them addictive as well as trying to be involved in some way. And so to answer that, I would say, a big part of it is even understanding the game that your child is playing. And so it's a constant meme, all the time online that I see where kids are making fun of parents, coming in and saying, pause your game. It's all online, I can't pause it. And you know, it's just kind of a constant thing where parents just don't seem to understand. And so we find ourselves always bargaining at the end of it. It's like, okay, it's been 30 minutes it's time. And they say, Oh, but I just need to do one more thing. Do they really? Is it something where they could legitimately just save the state of their game right then and there and walk away? Or is this something where they really are in the middle of a match and maybe we just let them finish it out. Right? So it's about better understanding the game so that you can be more informed as you regulate the time. Right?

And so let's say I do set a time on somebody and they're playing Fortnite online with their friends. And if I find that in the 29th minute, there's trying to start a new match, I might say, okay, you know, time is up. You have less than a minute left. These matches can take anywhere from five to 20 minutes each. How about you stop right now, versus if somebody is playing just a single player game by themselves, where there's the ability to save the game at any given moment and it's possible, then I know I can let them play up until the 30th minute and say, okay, pause, save, let's turn it off.

Anthony Godfrey:
Stay with us more on video game addiction. When we come back, find out about the signs to watch for in video game addiction.

Break:
If you're ready to start your child on the path to personalized learning, we are ready to help. The Jordan Virtual Learning Academy is coming to Jordan School District in the 2021-22 school year. Three new schools will be opening as part of the Academy, Rocky Peak Virtual Elementary School, Kelsey Peak Virtual Middle School and Kings Peak High School. Each school will have their own principal and teachers and each will give students a choice in their own learning. The schools will offer synchronous learning, which is teachers providing real-time, live online instruction and asynchronous learning, where teachers provide videotaped instruction for learning on a student's schedule. To register your student in the Jordan Virtual Learning Academy, visit http://connect.jordandistrict.org

Anthony Godfrey:
We visited earlier about what makes a video games addictive and that understanding that can help us moderate trial engagements with those games. Can you describe some of that?

Dustin:
Sure. So anything that is addictive meets some sort of need in our lives and things like video games that don't necessarily have a chemical addiction, but an addictive property to them. What is it that something about them will trigger the pleasure center in our brains and that can become addictive in and of itself? And so with video games, they have a whole bunch of different things that can make them interactive and addictive. A lot of the developers know what those things are and we'll try to put them into their games even more so. And some examples include things such as the endless side quests in missions.

So for example, a really popular series out there is The Assassin's Creed Series, and those games have become larger and larger with open-world areas. And you'll get a main quest that will tell you that you need to go from point A to point B, but then along that straight line, you'll find that in order to get to point B, you also need to go to point C, D, E, and F, all the way through Z, in order to actually ever get to point B. And so it's just kind of this endless side-quest kind of thing that can become addictive where it's just one more thing I gotta do.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay.

Dustin:
One more thing I got to do, and that's something that I capitalize quite a bit on and something that makes The Fortnite super addictive. It's something called the Twitch principle where it kind of triggers those fast reflex impulses, so if you want, if you were to watch an online match of professional Fortnite players, you would have no idea what's going on because these buildings are popping up and being deconstructed and people are jumping and shooting and everything is going on so fast.

And then the guy ends up losing the match. You have no idea how, and he gets super frustrated because he was this close to winning. So then he starts up a whole other match and needs to get that win, doing the same exact stuff. And so it's just that, you're just so close, and that's how it hooks you. It's really similar to the slot machine principle where I know if I were just to give it one more pull, I'm going to get that jackpot. Oh, it didn't come, just in one more. Cherry cherry bar. Yeah. I almost got there. I just need one more. Yup. And so it's that exact same principle where you just keep getting that close and you just need to keep going.

Anthony Godfrey:
How do you know when your child is addicted to video games?

Dustin:
It's a hard thing to really measure, but it's about looking for different behaviors that indicate a kid is starting to have a dependency on video games, where they're constantly thinking about it. If they're not playing video games, they're worrying about when they'll get another chance or they're putting things off. Maybe they're waking up in the middle of the night so they can get one more match, one more game, one more level, or they're putting off other things.

Maybe they were a really good student before or maybe just a good enough student before and now suddenly they're failing or having really bad grades because instead of doing anything school-related, they have to get on the computer or get on the system and be playing. So once it starts to become an obvious dependence or it's a disruption to things that they should be doing, that's when it starts to become a serious sign of possible addiction.

Anthony Godfrey:
When it disrupts the normal flow of daily life, then that's when you have a problem.

Dustin:
Exactly.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah. So let's start with what you do once you see it's happening. Let's say that you're there. Some parent that's listening is thinking, you just described my child. What do you recommend that point?

Dustin:
The number one thing I can recommend to any parent is communication when it comes down to it, with any kind of addiction. But especially when it comes to technology and video gaming. It's about having communication with your child and figuring out what exactly you can do to help them. A lot of the times I would say that kids are very well aware of this issue. If it's to the point where they're completely ignorant of the fact that they are having these problems, then it's a little bit more work, but communication is the first thing to do. Be able to talk to them openly about what you're seeing, and then talking to them about maybe limitations that you can put into place. If you just start limiting things automatically, start taking things away, start limiting time. It's honestly going to backfire and kids are gonna find ways around things that you do if they truly are addicted. But if you involve them in the process, have them give input as to how you can limit things, maybe goals to set after you do X, Y, and Z, then you can have this amount of time on the system. Those are the best first steps to take. Anything you do that doesn't involve the kid is definitely going to backfire.

Anthony Godfrey:
That makes a lot of sense. And I can picture that conversation even. Do you feel like you're playing too many video games and that that's getting in the way of daily life? And if they can admit that then they're at one stage and if they can't, then that's an entirely different problem altogether. It makes sense to start with those restrictions. Do you gradually make those restrictions more and more strict and reduce the time more and more? Where do you go from there once there's agreement that there's a problem and that you agree on some parameters and some goals and rewards.

Dustin:
That's a really good question because it kind of depends on the situation with the kid. If it's to the point where it's that kid where you bring up, it seems like you're having a problem with it and they deny it and they don't see a problem. Then that's usually when you would want to start off more strict at first, maybe even getting to the point of completely unplugging. One of the hardest things though, if you start setting these strict limitations is that I really encourage parents to try to follow the same limitations that they set on the kid themselves. A lot of the times the kids don't see a problem with the video gaming that they're doing because the parent will be yelling across the living room. Hey, stop playing on your video games. You're on it too much. And then meanwhile, they'd continue to browse on their phone and get in political arguments on Facebook. So it's kind of a hard thing to be able to set limitations, unless you're able to set those same limitations on yourself, to a reasonable degree. If you're doing work from your computer, of course, then you need to do that.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah. When I was playing the Atari in 1982, my dad was not engaged in similar activity. So there was no comparison. But these days, you are right. You're playing candy crush on your phone and telling them not to play video games or you may be involved in some real video gaming yourself as a parent. You just need to be modeling that.

Dustin:
Exactly. And in fact, it's funny that you bring up Candy Crush because there were actually a statistics released a few years back that the number one demographic that was addicted to Candy Crush were middle-aged women. And so, here we are, always worrying about kids being addicted to video games, and sometimes we need to kind of look at ourselves and see just what our technological habits are as well.

Anthony Godfrey:
Just to summarize, a child who can admit that they need to cut back, may not need the most strict restrictions right out of the gate. But if they can't even admit it, you may need to go to an extreme and just say, we need to cut this off entirely. And then it rests with the parent to do the same.

Dustin:
Yes, definitely. As well as this video gaming addiction course, I teach a continuous course at the JFEC that helps with nicotine addiction. And the thing  we always tell everybody is that cold turkey is the most effective, but most difficult method to getting over an addiction. And so it goes the same way with technology and video gaming. If it's to the point where it's a severe addiction, sometimes cold turkey is the best option where we're just going to unplug and hide those things, block those things on the computer, and then maybe reintroduce it later, if we can learn how to handle this thing a little bit better.

Anthony Godfrey:
How serious can this problem be?

Dustin:
I would equate it to any type of other addiction where it can definitely lead to very serious problems if we let it get out of hand. With the individual addiction to video games, studies have been tied to severe signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety. If it's to the point that social interactions through video games really does not equate social interaction face to face, or even like through conversation over things such as Google meet or phone calls. And so honestly, while there is some social benefit to video games, true video gaming addiction will lead to social anxiety and social stress and difficulty maintaining social relationships with people as well. So there are really severe outcomes that can come from it. And it is a serious thing to consider when we're trying to monitor kids' usage of video games.

Anthony Godfrey:
Are those some of the signs when professional help may need to be sought?

Dustin:
Definitely. I would treat it just like any other addiction. Honestly, I wouldn't say that there's really very many people out there that specify in therapeutic treatment specifically for video gaming addiction. But if you find somebody that is an addiction specialist, then that's somebody that would be perfect to go to. Our District is actually really great in helping people find professionals to meet with the Health and Wellness Team at the District level, even put together a huge Excel spreadsheet on the website that shows providers in the area, and it will specifically tell whether or not they deal with addiction. And so those were the type of people to see for specific problems, to the point of it being severe with addiction to video games.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay, Dustin, thanks. This has been great information. Tell me what is your favorite video game?

Dustin:
That's a hard question to answer to be honest. Part of the reason why I am so interested in teaching. This is because I feel like I actually had a real struggle with video gaming addiction myself as a youth. I was really into it back in high school, really into PlayStation II and Nintendo 64 when I was a little bit younger and I got hooked, really into the single player games. There was a series called Kingdom Hearts that had a very involved, very lengthy, great story to it, but it took up way too much of my time. And I realized that. I'm a very athletic guy, but at the same time, the video games started taking way too much of my time. And so now I'm just here to help. Not only help kids not go down that road, but also help parents understand and connect with their kids.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks for joining us, Dustin, great information. I look forward to talking with you about other topics in the future.

Dustin:
Yeah, definitely. Thank you.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thanks for joining us for another episode of the Supercast. Remember, education is the most important thing you'll do today. We'll see you.

Show Audio Transcription

February is CTE Month, a time to celebrate the value, achievements and accomplishments of Career and Technical Education programs across the country including right here in Jordan School District. On this episode of the Supercast, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey celebrates CTE month by visiting one of 25 Career and Technical Education classes offered at JATC North and JATC South.

Listen to the sparks fly when Dr. Godfrey gears up and finds out what it takes to learn the art of welding from students in the welding program.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. February is CTE month, a time to celebrate the value, achievements and accomplishments of career and technical education programs across the country, including right here in Jordan School District. On this episode of the Supercast, we celebrate CTE month by visiting one of the 25 career and technical education classes offered at two locations in the District at JATC North and JATC South. Listen to the sparks fly when I gear up and get an up close and personal lesson on what it takes to learn the art of welding from students in our welding program.

We're here in the welding class at JATC South with teacher Blair Jensen. Tell me a little bit about what just happened.

Blair:
You just had everybody clocked out at the end of the class.

Anthony Godfrey:
I've never seen that happen. Yeah, I did.

Blair:
So, I run my welding shop as close to an actual welding shop as I can. The main focus in this place is on career centers on building soft skills. And so clocking out, or you might've heard me talking about, then signing up for a job next week. When we have days that we're working in the shop, they also have jobs that they have to do in addition to their welding duties. It's teaching them some of the career focus that they would have in a welding shop. Things like maintaining cleanliness, observing safety standards, and just making sure that they're building those career skills that their future employers are going to be looking for.

Anthony Godfrey:
In addition to the welding skills they're learning in the class, it sounds like there's a lot beyond just welding that they get to experience. And they come out ready to work, not just with the skills, but ready to be a great worker.

Blair:
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Like I said, career skills I think is my main focus. As I talked to people in industry, a lot of them will tell me we can teach them to weld. If you can get them to where they can run a bead and they can analyze their defects, we can teach them and certify them for what we need. But the things that they struggle to get kids to learn, that they need to be learning while they're in high school, are those soft skills. They need to be learning to show up on time, to treat their coworkers with respect, to communicate with their coworkers and their managers, learning all the stuff that goes into the welding, the blueprint, reading the map, that's all very valuable.

Anthony Godfrey:
I see a group of students over here. This looks like a crew that you want to have on your side. I noticed that all of footwear is much more durable than mine. I look like I'm about to walk the mall before it opens in the morning, and you guys look like you're ready for action. Tell me your name.

Student:
My name is Skylar Stephenson.

Anthony Godfrey:
And Skyler, why are you taking welding?

Student:
I took welding because I thought it was cool. I've always watched YouTube videos on it and thought, I want to do that someday. So I decided to take this when I found out about it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Now that you're taking the class, what do you think of it?

Student:
I think it's super fun and it's a good experience. It teaches you more than just welding, how to show up on time and how to treat your coworkers, right? Like Blair was saying.

Anthony Godfrey:
So has this class changed you?

Student:
I think it has in a good way. Tell me your name.

Student:
My name is Parker Vance.

Anthony Godfrey:
What made you want to be a welder?

Student:
When I was young, my uncle always welded around me and I found it quite cool. So I decided to do it.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me your name.

Student:
My name is Forest Curtis.

Anthony Godfrey:
So what are some of the things you've made?

Student:
So right now I'm actually working on a sculpture. I'm shaping metal and cutting it with a Oxycutting torch.

Anthony Godfrey:
What does an Oxycutting torch do besides cut, obviously?

Student:
You can cut with an Oxycutting torch or you can weld with it or braze, anything that's involved with high heat or amalgam.

Anthony Godfrey:
You're going to find out how little I know about welding. What does brazing mean?

Student:
So brazing is joining two pieces of metal that don't quite coincide. So like steel and brass or aluminum and steel.

Anthony Godfrey:
Did the skills that you learned here transfer, you being comfortable using tools that aren't necessarily related to welding?

Student:
Yeah. So any large tools, power tools, just anything that's you seem uneasy when you first see it. I'm more comfortable working with that now.

Anthony Godfrey:
Awesome. I do have to admit coming in here, it's pretty daunting. I don't know how to use any of this stuff. It's all very unfamiliar. Maybe you felt that way coming in, but it sounds like you made a lot of progress.

Student:
Yeah, I feel comfortable. Tell me your name.

Student:
My name's Taylor.

Anthony Godfrey:
Would you tell us what made you want to take welding?

Student:
I've always been interested in welding and I just want a good solid trade that I can have a lot of dropout opportunities with when I get out of high school.

Anthony Godfrey:
I think the trades are in demand more than ever. And it's great that you're pursuing that. Your name?

Student:
My name is Tyler Hayward.

Anthony Godfrey:
Do you know what you need to do after this program to be prepared to be a welder?

Student:
Well, there's a couple of options. My plan is currently, my brother is working at a welding shop and so he's trying to set me up with an interview there. So I'm going to go try and work there and just work my way up, start at the bottom, go up. Or I could continue and go to an another welding program and continue my skills and learning and become a better welder from here.

Anthony Godfrey:
Sounds like a great plan. Tell me your name.

Student:
Zach Smith.

Anthony Godfrey:
And Zach, why did you want to be in this class?

Student:
I had a friend that was in this class last year and he had real high praises of the class and Blair. And my grandpa's a welder too, and he introduced me to it. So I was really interested and thought it'd be a great opportunity to make chances for a career in the future.

Anthony Godfrey:
And with your grandpa being a welder, have you tried welding at all before this class?

Student:
Not before this class now? I wasn't able to touch his stuff.

Anthony Godfrey:
Has he let you touch his stuff since you've gotten some experience?

Student:
Yeah. Now I got some training, he lets me use his equipment.

Anthony Godfrey:
So he must be pretty proud that you're pursuing that.

Student:
Yeah. Yeah. It's really cool thing to just have something else to talk about it, with them and bond with them.

Anthony Godfrey:
So tell me your name.

Student:
I'm Troy Daley.

Anthony Godfrey:
Troy, why are you taking welding?

Student:
I'm taking welding because there have been multiple times where my family's had to have something welded, like a jack on the trailer, things like that. We've had to take it to neighbors and I've always been fascinated with it. No one in my family has welded, so I wanted to learn a new skill that could potentially lead to job opportunities.

Anthony Godfrey:
So when there's a need in your family, Hey, we need to do this. I liked the way you described that. We've always had to have someone else do it. It sounds like you like to be able to do things for yourself.

Student:
I do. I do enjoy doing things. I've always like working on cars and stuff like that. I've enjoyed doing stuff like that. So welding is another thing to add to that.

Anthony Godfrey:
So when there's something that you need done, your first thought isn't, who can I get to do this, but how can I figure out how to do this myself?

Student:
Exactly. I've always watched YouTube videos or tried to figure it out myself.

Anthony Godfrey:
What have you welded that you've really enjoyed welding?

Student:
You know, my brother had a light holder for his boat trailer that fell off and I was able to bring it in and weld that up for him, get that fixed.

Anthony Godfrey:
You're going to be a very popular family member for a very long time I think.

Student:
I hope so.

AnthonyGodfrey:
You guys tell me about the soft skills that your teacher talked about, being to work on time, being able to work with other people well, being reliable, working hard. Tell me about learning those skills in this class.

Student:
There is a big emphasis on stuff like that. He makes sure that we learn we need to be on time and wear the proper safety equipment and be nice to fellow employees and stuff like that. And if not, we do have the chance of getting fired and that's like a good motivation for us. And that really teaches us that in real life and in real workplaces, real mistakes have real consequences.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's a great lesson to learn so early in life. And it's going to benefit you a lot. What is it like to get fired in class?

Student:
I wasn't wearing my safety glasses and that is one of the big important things that Blair stresses is wearing your safety glasses.

Anthony Godfrey:
I see.

Student:
And I wasn't wearing them, so I got fired. So I had to do my job that he's talked about. I had to do that for a week without getting paid for it beause we get paid for our jobs. And then we have to pay shop rent at the end of the week or at the end of the month, right? And if you don't make, if you get fired, you may not be able to make enough money to pay that as a grade.

Anthony Godfrey:
I'm blown away. This is exactly what education is supposed to be about. These lifelong lessons that are going to stay with you.

Stay with us. When we come back, more on this program, preparing students for successful careers and the creativity that goes into welding.

Break:
If you're ready to start your child on the path to personalized learning, we are ready to help. The Jordan Virtual Learning Academy is coming to Jordan School District in the 2021-22 school year. Three new schools will be opening as part of the Academy; Rocky Peak Virtual Elementary School, Kelsey Peak Virtual Middle School and Kings Peak High School. Each school will have their own principal and teachers and each will give students a choice in their own learning. The schools will offer synchronous learning, which is teachers providing real time, live, online instruction and asynchronous learning where teachers provide videotaped instruction for learning on a student's schedule. To register your student in the Jordan Virtual Learning Academy, visit http://connect.jordandistrict.org.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about your Christmas project.

Student:
So we had to design and make a prototype that would be further judged to see which one would go into production, that we could sell to raise money for the class. And my group, we decided to build mini Santas out of horseshoes. And it was actually really fun because it was challenging. We had to figure out how certain things would go and then we kind of tweaked it as we went. We added some glasses made out of like filler rod that we had, just to make it look more like Santa. And then in another challenge we had that was really fun was when we were painting it. We kind of made a mess everywhere and then we had to scrape the floor and clean it all up. But it was really fun.

Anthony Godfrey:
What I love about that is it's not just about acquiring skills. There's a high level of creativity. Do you feel like that there's a high level of creativity in the welding that you do?

Student:
Yeah, definitely. Most of our projects, all of our Christmas decor projects that we've had to do. Blair had completed the lessons, then we had to come up with our own ideas, all of our dimensions and planning out specifically and then go to our team members and work with them and to use their creative ideas to build on it. So there's definitely a lot of creative, critical thinking that goes into all of our projects. We sold more than we needed to and it was really good. It was trying, but we were able to fill out all the orders on time too.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's one thing to make things the sales. It's another to fill them and say, Oh wow, we really do have this demand. Let's crank these out. So well done. What would you say to someone who's considering taking this class?

Student:
I'd say, don't worry about not being good at it at first. That's the whole point of taking it is to learn. Nobody's going to make fun of you for having a bad weld. All we're going to do is tell you what can make it better on top of what he said. I came in this class and I had only welded one time before and I had no idea what I was doing, but luckily we have Blair and he's a great teacher. He'll go through the process with you over and over again until you figure it out and tell you what you're doing wrong and really just give you good constructive criticism on each process. So many times throughout this school year, I've done some of these processes and I can not get them and I'm embarrassed. I don't want to show him these welds because they're horrible, but he shows me what's wrong with them, what I can do to make them better. And my welding and those skills have improved significantly.

Anthony Godfrey:
I love that. It's great to hear that. And that's exactly what a great teacher does. And I just admire all of you guys for diving in and learning this. And it sounds like you have some trade and technical skills. That'll carry you through life. A lot of really important life skills that they're just going to be invaluable. So let's see a little demonstration.

Student:
All right. Let's gear up and put on our safety equipment.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow. That's something, everything gets dark. The spark starts. So you start, you start that and that's all you can see. No, not before. That's pretty interesting. So tell me about what you do.

Student:
So first off, I tacked the piece of metal on there. That was that first part when I just did the right little tech and then I created the bead using the filler metal, which most of the base metal with the filler metal. So it isn't just a continuous motion. I did little CS. So that's where you see the leaves in it.

Superintendent:
Yeah. Yeah. And does that strengthen it, putting the little season there?

Student:
Not necessarily. It does make the length of the weld wider, so kind of strengthens it, but it just makes it look better.

Superintendent:
Oh yeah. It's more for appearance. Okay. Yeah. That's beautiful. Perfect speed. He's got great welding in both plates. So it's got good fusion. That's going to be a successful weld.  And is it hot to the touch right now?

Student:
Oh yeah.

Superintendent:
It's funny. Yeah, it doesn't look hard. I'm not going to test it.

Student:
I believe it is. If I go grab my thermometer, I'd say right now, right after welding, it's going to be close to 300 degrees.

Superintendent:
Holy cow! Safety has got to be a central part of class throughout the year. I would suspect number one priority, like Troy was saying earlier in the interview when they were talking about getting fired. Safety glasses for me is number one.

Student:
Yeah. We've got a zero tolerance policy.

Superintendent:
Yeah, it was strange having the mask down. And as soon as the weld starts, everything else gets dark. I've never experienced that before.

Teacher:
Yeah. These kids are spoiled by these auto darkening hoods. That's definitely not how I learned how to weld. I learned with passive lenses that are dark all the time. And so you've got to find what your position is and then drop your hood to weld. And it's going to be dark until you start that arc. And so these auto darkening hoods they bought are a lot nicer because they can drop their hood and they can safely see where everything's at, in position. And so it makes them better.

Superintendent:
Yeah. Guys, this has been dynamite. This is one of my favorites, honestly. I'm so impressed. Great work you guys. And thanks for taking the time. That means a lot to me. I appreciate it.

We're here with Craig Cottle, CTE coordinator and Sonia Burton, the Principal of JTC South. I love this welding program. This is fantastic. I'm overwhelmed. Tell me a little bit more about it.

Sonya:
Oh my gosh. Welding is just an amazing program. Jensen is teaching our students how to weld, but also a future and in welding. He's really preparing them for the workplace and to be an outstanding candidate. I wish I was hiring welders right now because they were the fired, every single one of them.

Superintendent:
Craig, tell me just about the value of a hands-on education like this, learning from someone who's been in the industry.

Craig:
You know, there's a lot of our youth that have a lot of skills, a lot of understanding and knowledge, but a lot of it deals with the use of their hands. These kinds of programs, such as welding, give the students an opportunity to excel in a process and in a program that is fit for them and their desires and their interest in their career paths and the way that they're traveling and wanting to get employed. And so it's really great when we have wonderful teachers that have the skills and abilities, that demand and expect from students, the opportunity. It gives them that opportunity to learn and to strengthen those skills that they need to be employable and to be safe and to be able to enjoy a future in their specific path.

Superintendent:
Great. You know, following a pathway like this and learning a trade may even be a fallback. Even if it isn't the number one. Now, most of these guys want to be welders, but even if you decided you didn't want to be a welder, having a skill like that to fall back on if things don't work out with another job, that you have is very, very valuable.

Craig:
Exactly. I think I could see some of these young men in the design and fabrication place where they could run out of a garage or they could run out of a smaller facility. And like you said, just be able to run a business on the side from another profession or another focus in their life.

Superintendent:
What a wonderful blessing that'd be for them to be able to have their vocation, and have an application that they really, really enjoy and be able to do, thanks for all the work that both of you are doing to make that possible. I love that we have such a wide range of opportunities for students and you're a big part of that. Thank you.

Craig and Sonya:
Thank you so much for your support of CTE.

Superintendent:
Thanks for joining us on the Supercast. I hope this has sparked an interest in some of our amazing CTE programs across the District. Remember, education is the most important thing you will do today.

Show Audio Transcription

Jordan School District is preparing to open three new schools in the 2021-22 school year. Kings Peak High School, Kelsey Peak Middle School and Rocky Peak Elementary School are part of the Jordan Virtual Learning Academy, giving students more options in their education and the way in which they learn.

On this episode of the Supercast, we hear from principals of the three new virtual schools. They explain how the schools will work, who can enroll and how this personalized learning will focus on the individual student. Find out how the Jordan Virtual Learning Academy is different than anything we’ve done before.

If you have questions regarding the new schools please call 801-567-8131 or visit connect.jordandistrict.org.


Audio Transcription

Superintendent:
Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. It's a very exciting time here in Jordan School District as we prepare to open three unique new schools for the 2021-22 school year. Kings Peak Virtual High School, Kelsey Peak Virtual Middle School and Rocky Peak Virtual Elementary School are part of the Jordan Virtual Learning Academy, which will give students more options in their education and the way in which they learn on this episode of the Supercast we hear from principals of the three new virtual schools. They explain how the schools will work, who can enroll and how this personalized learning will focus on the individual students find out how the Jordan Virtual Learning Academy is different from anything we've done before.

With the three newest principals in Jordan School District, we have three administrators who have just been appointed to be principals of our online schools that we'll be starting in the fall. So let's introduce these three new principals, and then let's talk about their schools and how you can get signed up. If you're interested, Ross Menlove, Principal of Rocky Peak Elementary School. Tell us about you a little bit.

Ross:
I'm Ross Menlove and I'm excited to be the new principal at Rocky Peak Virtual Elementary. My background is elementary. I've taught first grade, third grade, fifth grade, sixth grade, and also been an instructional coach. And I've been working a lot with the teachers this year to ensure our online program that we're currently doing. It's very successful and it's meeting the needs of students and helping kids progress in their learning.

Superintendent:
We also have Spencer Campbell who will be the Principal of Kelsey Peak Virtual Middle School.

Spencer:
Hi, my name is Spencer Campbell. I'm super excited to get this program started for the virtual school. My background is in middle school, taught seventh grade and ninth grade, and obviously have a background in technology and what that it looks like for students at home and at school. We're super excited to get this started.

Superintendent:
And then we have Ammon Wiemers who is the principal of Kings Peak High School.

Ammon:
I'm Ammon Wiemers, Principal at Kings Peak Virtual High School. Prior to that, I was working as the administrator of the online program for the district. And my background is in a high school English. And so I taught at West Jordan High School for nine years.

Superintendent:
We're really excited to have all three of you on board, moving this forward. It's a big leap for us to move to having three separate online schools. Now you all fall under the Jordan Virtual Learning Academy, but they are individual schools and are hiring right now. I want to start with talking about what the difference will be between these online schools and maybe the online learning that was experienced in the spring and through this year for those students who chose that option. Let's start with you Ross.

Ross:
This upcoming virtual elementary is going to be pretty awesome because it's going to be very student centered and student specific. As parents consider what they want to look for in this program in this virtual dimension, they're going to be able to choose between two different types of curriculum. Currently all of our online program is synchronous, live with the teacher. What we're going to be offering next year is asynchronous, meaning that the student can log in and they can complete their coursework for that day, any time, any place, any pace. And it's gonna be very individualized for that student. So that's the asynchronous option.

The synchronous option is similar to right now. They're gonna have a live teacher, but the difference is going to be those teachers are going to be a lot more strategic in the activities they have to do. They are a lot more intentional in their planning and in their instructional design because they have experience now. They know what works, they know what doesn't work.

And so we'll be able to offer those two options if I may put in a plug out there. The wonderful thing about this for elementary is all of our online instruction, all that core instruction, those students need to be successful as fully online.

We're also going to have an option where kids can come in a couple of days a week at our satellite location to come and do some project-based hands-on learning with certified teachers and also receive some extra help if a student struggles with a math assignment that day, or they need some help with their reading, they're going to be able to come in and have a live teacher, hands-on face-to-face right there with them to be able to provide that instruction at the elementary level.

Superintendent:
That's one of the big questions that we get is how synchronous this will be and what the alternatives will be. It is a good reminder that this is not pandemic learning. We do have an in-person component now. Will that in-person component be required or will it just be an option?

Ross:
The in-person requirement is fully optional. We're guaranteed through our curriculum that every student has the core instruction and the learning that they need to be successful by fully being online or ensure that they have what they need to be able to progress in their learning and go to the next grade level

Anthony Godfrey:
Can you describe for everyone, what you anticipate class sizes will look?

Ross:
The wonderful thing about this is that our class sizes are going to be very similar to our in school class sizes. That means that the teacher will have the time and intention they need to dedicate that personalized learning to each and every student, able to work together as a team to make sure that every student is progressing in learning. If a student is doing the asynchronous option, the wonderful thing is they're going to have a licensed and certified teacher who can modify their instruction each and every day, to make sure that student gets exactly what they need. If they're doing the synchronous learning, live with the teacher, that teacher's going to build up and automatically respond and have live feedback to give that student the feedback they need to progress in their learning and to ensure they progress and do their best.

Superintendent:
What's exciting for me is the number of options. There's an in-person component. If you'd like, it can be asynchronous. In other words, it can be time-specific or you can have a high level of flexibility. So I think this can meet a lot of needs that maybe have even emerged as a result of the pandemic. Before the pandemic, I think for some people online education would have sounded like an option that was not right for their child. But sometimes when you try it, you realize this is actually working really well. I know you've seen some great success at the elementary level, even just this year. Can you talk about that?

Ross:
Our current elementary program, the current online program, the wonderful thing about it is it's very student centered. Each and every day, we have teachers that are creating content and creating activities that are directed for that student. So the wonderful thing about our online program, it's not a pre-determined curriculum that is in essence, designed by a company. This is teachers in Jordan School District, working with Jordan School District students, creating very specific content and curriculum and activities that are directed to them. These teachers, who know these students, who build these relationships virtually, are able to direct that content right for that student, to be able to provide that student what they need. They don't have to go through some algorithm or anything like that. We have the live teachers that are behind the scenes, creating this content, ensuring the student has a path of learning so that they're going to be successful.

And the great thing about online is this year is we've shown that kids and teachers can build very effective and very connected relationships. Everyday I have teachers that reply back to me when I asked them about how things are going. They mentioned how they have even better relationships with some of the students. And also, especially with the families, because the parents are right there. The parents are watching some of the sessions. The parents are involved in their homework. Teachers have great relationships with the parents because it's more of all the stakeholders and all the parties are coming together for the success of the child. It's not just the teacher being in a classroom with the student is the teacher, the parent and the child all coming together virtually to ensure that that student is being successful and making those modifications and shifting on the fly  to ensure that kid has what they need to be successful.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's exciting. Spencer, let's talk about Kelsey Peak Virtual Middle School. What can a parent expect from Kelsey Peak Middle?

Spencer:
So a few things they can expect are flexibility and predictability. And that's something that Ammon will talk about as well with the high school. But the idea is that kids have a flexible option. Currently, we have students in a variety of situations throughout the District. So for example, we have a student that has high anxiety and coming to school is difficult for them. Or maybe they want to take their core classes online and they want to take their extracurricular or their elective classes at the school. They have that option. But the predictability part is they're going to have certified teachers teaching those classes, whether the student attends live or watches a recording after the fact. They have that ability to take those classes when they can, or when they fit into their schedule.

Superintendent:
The way that it had to be structured this year at the secondary level made it impossible for synchronous learning to be available because teachers who were teaching online were serving students who maybe did have a partial schedule or they were teaching students from a number of different schools. So creating a schedule districtwide just was not possible. The advantage here with Kelsey Peak Virtual Middle is that we actually will be offering synchronous learning for all of our classes. Is that correct?

Spencer:
That is correct. In a sense, if they take the full online option and they have their classes full, we're building a schedule out right now. The nice thing about that is those classes will be recorded. So students that are in a partial or hybrid schedule at their home school can come back and watch those recordings later. And they would get all the same interactiveness as the kids asking questions that are in that virtual option.

Superintendent:
So if they're full at Kelsey Peak Virtual Middle, that means they can have a completely synchronous schedule, but if you're trying to coordinate with a local school that might not match up, so they can watch the video and they can interact with the teacher. There'll be office hours and availability from the teacher.

Spencer:
Absolutely. That's a great question. One of the difficulties with the middle school is we have 13 middle schools to coordinate schedules and classes. And so you're correct in the way that stated if a student is taking virtual classes, they will have synchronous learning all day long. If they're taking a partial or a hybrid schedule, they will be able to watch those recordings after the fact.

Superintendent:
And I know we've described this a couple of different ways, but I think it's an important point to distinguish this from the pandemic learning experienced in the spring and the fall. There will be a full video class for every course that a student would normally be taking that they can watch where that has not been the case this fall, simply because of the logistics.

Spencer:
Correct every recording of the secondary level, and I know Ammon will talk about it too, is going to be recorded. So when the teacher is giving the initial instruction, whether that's at the synchronous moment or the night before that they're sharing with students, every lesson will be recorded so students will have the opportunity to go back and watch and participate in that lesson.

Superintendent:
I liked that description, flexibility and predictability, which is really the combination that we're looking for. Is there an in-person component to the middle school and talk to us about the grade configuration?

Spencer:
So the middle school is actually seventh through eighth. We talked about this before, to move ninth grade to the high school. And as far as the in-person, this would be more small group instruction or labs because we're going to have students in a partial schedule. We may only have 25 kids that are in the virtual session with the two satellite offices or satellite buildings that Ross talked about. That teacher will have the ability to run labs or activities and invite students to come in to those sessions or activities that aren't required, but just an added bonus to virtual instruction in the middle school.

Superintendent:
We've mentioned a couple times the physical locations that will be Hidden Valley Middle School and Majestic Elementary School. Hidden Valley is next to an elementary. Majestic is next to a middle school. So there will be a variety of facilities available and all three levels will be available at both locations. One of the things I'm really excited about is that these physical locations will not only allow for interactive lab work and support from teachers in-person, but students can come in and just work at the computer in a quiet place with reliable wifi and great equipment.

Spencer:
Correct. So as of right now, we actually have that set up currently where students can come in to a writing lab or a math lab and get extra help. We ask students, obviously, to set appointment so there's an adult there that can help them through that process. But there are those resources available if the students that need them during the day that can come in and just work through on a computer, like you said, with the internet.

Superintendent:
Stay with us. When we come back, we'll hear from Ammon Wiemers, Principal of the new Kings Peak Virtual High School.

Break:
One of the most prestigious academic achievement programs available for high school students, and we're proud to say, it's coming back to Jordan School District. We're talking about the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, which will be located at West Jordan High School. The IB program supports personal and academic achievement for students at the very highest level. IB diploma courses take place during a student's junior and senior year in high school. All sophomores are invited to consider the IB program for next year. There are no pre-requisites for IB and interested middle school students can start preparing now students with the IB diploma have a better chance at getting into some of the most prestigious universities in the world. In order to find out if your teen is a good candidate for IB, visit http://ib.jordandistrict.org, or call West Jordan High School.

Superintendent:
Ammon, let's talk about the high school. What are some of the things that you would like parents to know about? What's going to be available through Kings Peak High School?

Ammon:
When we were thinking about how to design the curriculum and the courses at the high school, some of the guiding principles that we think are important are what we've talked about before. Having some flexibility and also predictability. And when we see what those choices entail, we want students to have choices not only in when and where they learn, this is the virtual component, but also within the courses, what they learn. And so student choice in all three areas are what's important to us. We're building a schedule around that. With that in mind, students don't necessarily have to learn at the same time and in the same place as others. However, it's good to know when and where to get help if you need it. And so within the design of every course, we started to think about it not as a class period, but as an instructional week. Within that week, we have both synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities for every student in every course. By the time that students are in high school, we want them to be making intentional decisions about their own learning. If a student is in need of additional support, we have some support in place for them to go and get that help. Teachers will be available throughout the day to zoom or to come in and get help individually. And so it's the level of support at the student level, as the student needs it. And so we have a structure built in that supports the student choice in their learning. In every course, like I said, there's going to be synchronous learning opportunities each week. And then from that, students make intentional decisions about their own learning.

Superintendent:
They have supports to get that help when and where and how they need it. Tell me about a partial schedule at the high school level. It's a question that we get a lot. I'm excited at the prospect of a student being able to fill their schedule with the classes they'd like to take, even if there's a conflict at their home high school, that perhaps they can take an online class. That opens up a class period for them to be able to take an elective, perhaps that was otherwise going to create a conflict. That's a really critical component of this virtual school. Our partnerships with all of the local high schools. And so what we're essentially doing is expanding the offerings and the flexibility of all of the schools where students are enrolled at their high school and they want to get ahead, or they want to take a course that's not offered during a certain period. We offer some flexibility in expanding the course offerings in all of the high schools. And so they will be able to participate in that course in a virtual setting while still maintaining their enrollment at their high school and still being eligible to participate in all the activities that the high school has offered under UHSA rules. Any of those sanctioned sports or activities are still available to students who participate at Kings Peak High School, even if it's full time. Because Kings Peak does not offer any sports teams or any activities of that nature, students are still eligible to participate at their boundary. So we see Kings Peak High School has two options. One is to be fully enrolled at Kings Peak High School. And then the second option, we hope, is to be seen as an extension of the high school. The local high school, when our students participate in the services and receive the support there. And then we offer additional curriculum options, additional course options that they can engage in.

Superintendent:
Let's talk about who's going to be teaching these courses. Spencer, talk to us a little bit about that.

Spencer:
I think the current situation, the pandemic situations placed a lot of teachers in different situations that they never saw themselves in. And the teachers that we're interviewing currently are teachers that have been waiting for this moment for a long time. These are teachers with a strong background in technology. These are teachers with a strong curriculum base, but also design. When you're designing courses online, it's a little bit different than teaching a class or creating lesson plans in person. There are added components to those lessons. And so these teachers are the best at what they do as far as what we've seen in the interviews. And so to say that these are just teachers that are moving from in-class to online is not the case. These teachers have been preparing for this and waiting for this for a long time. And they're exceptional from everything we've seen so far.

Superintendent:
Many parents are wondering whether they can switch back and forth. There's been some switching back and forth, of course, because of the pandemic. As things change over time and the way that things are set up, parents sign up for a virtual school in the same way that they would sign up for a brick and mortar school, and really are committing to that school for the year because their spot is not staffed for at their boundary school. However, we want students to learn in the environment that suits them best. And if there does need to be some switching back and forth, that can happen, in certain circumstances. But essentially the expectation is that when you sign up, you're signing up for the year. But of course, we work very hard to provide flexibility. As you've said before, that's at the center of what we're doing.

Spencer:
Yeah. That's a wonderful comment. The wonderful thing about this virtual program elementary up through high school is it's personalized. It's designed for the students. It's designed to meet their individual needs. Now, as a student enrolled in the school, they're enrolling in the program, they're growing in the school, just like you have their school, but you know, and I know in parents listening to this and students listening, we all know there's different things that happen in life. And that's where we come together. And we have that flexibility with predictability. Now, being able to change back and forth between schools comes with its own challenges, comes own concerns, and we'll face those when we get there. But as we get into this and we get going, we start learning. If you have concerns, you have questions, all of us would love to talk to you. Come in, give us a call, whatever, it works to send us an email, let's get together. Let's talk, let's figure out what works best for your student. This is a very personalized program, very individualized and we're here. We're committed, just as the rest of Jordan School District. We're committed to what's best for our students and our families.

Superintendent:
I'm just going to go around the room and ask each principal to explain, how will a parent or student know that your school is the right school for them next year?

Ross:
One of the big differences between our current online learning and Rocky Peak Virtual Elementary is that this is more parents making the choice about where their child learns best. If your child learns best inside your home with you being aware of what's happening in their curriculum and what their learning needs, this is a great option for you. If your child learns best by having some flexibility throughout their day, and be able to have a different schedule than normal, this works best for them. As a parent, you need to be aware that this option works extremely well as we all come together and work together. And so parents are an active member of the learning process. As they work with teachers to ensure what is best for students, what is best for their child and what works best for them?

Spencer:
I think ultimately it's about flexibility. Parents know their students best. And the option at Kelsey Peak Virtual Middle School is, let me give you an example of three types of kids that we see. One, maybe you have a student that needs an extracurricular class to fit in their schedule because they're in SBL and they don't have room in their schedule. This is perfect for them. Maybe you have a son or a daughter that's on a dance team or an Olympic ski team or a hockey team and they have to leave early every day and they need to take that fifth, sixth, seventh period online. This is perfect for them. And as mentioned earlier, maybe you're a student that has an IEP or struggles with anxiety and the large crowds and large group classes make you a little bit nervous.

Ammon:
This is the place for you because of its flexibility and predictability, just like choosing any school. This is a decision that parents need to make with their students. And while it is a new high school, we have some idea of who might be successful here. We have a situation where students have been learning how to learn online through Canvas and through the last year students who have shown that they can work independently, work at their own pace and make good choices on their own are going to be very successful in this setting.

Superintendent:
We offered virtual high school classes even before the pandemic and the pass rate in Jordan District was double that of some districts that are comparable. And so I know we have the people and the program in place for students to be very successful. Really the bottom line here is, if this sounds good for you and your student, it's worth giving it a try. It's worth signing up because we have outstanding principals with a great background, but are interviewing and hiring the best teachers around with not just the skills, but the passion for teaching students in this way. So thanks to all three of you for moving this vision forward. I'm excited to have an additional alternative available to students beyond the pandemic. And we look forward to great things. Thanks for joining

For more information about the Jordan Virtual Learning Academy, Rocky Peak Virtual Elementary School, Kelsey Peak Virtual Middle School, or King's Peak Virtual High School, call (801) 567-8131 or visit connect.jordandistrict.org. Thanks for joining us for another edition of the Supercast. And remember, education is the most important thing you'll do today. We'll see ya out there.

Show Audio Transcription

A new program in Jordan School District has middle school students preparing right now for future careers in technology. They are learning how to code in the classroom - creating computer games and perfecting a skill that could land them great paying jobs in a high demand industry.

On this episode of the Supercast, we take you inside some classrooms where kids are learning to code. Find out why coding is making math fun in a unique way for so many students and teachers right now and how parents can support their kids who want to code.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. A new program in Jordan School District has middle school students preparing right now for future careers in technology. They're learning how to code in the classroom, creating computer games and perfecting the skill that could land them great paying jobs in a high demand industry. On this episode of the Supercast, we take you inside some classrooms where kids are learning to code. Find out why coding is making math fun in a unique way for so many students and teachers right now, and how parents can support their kids who want to code.

I'm here in Mr. Nielsen's Creative Coding Class, where they've been learning how to do some graphics here at Hidden Valley Middle School. Eric, tell me about what you coded.

Eric:
Currently, I programmed a little game here. Whenever you hit the space bar, hit up the number by one and you can just get little upgrades. Took me awhile to code, fill the background, put the numbers on the screen.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, that's cool. So what did you learn by programming this?

Eric:
I learned how to get numbers and thoughts on the screen. That was an issue for me before I learned how to put little boxes of color words, how to get input from the player.

Anthony Godfrey:
How many of you, raise your hand if you want to continue with coding in some form after this class? That's great. That's a lot of you.

Student:
I have been interested in coding for a while now. And it's interesting in coding because you have to tell the computer exactly what you want it to do, step-by-step. If you told the computer, make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it would be like okay, what do you want me to do? You would have to take out the bread, take out the peanut butter, take out the jelly. Take out two slices of bread and put them next to each other. And then each step step-by-step. So you have to think about what goes into the process.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oaky. I forgot to tell the computer to take the lid off the peanut butter. We're in trouble now. Yeah. Tell me your name. I say you may talk, Isaiah. Tell me about the project that you have going right now.

Isaiah:
I made this one. He lets us do our code at your own stuff. Yeah. Where we make our own code. And I made one like a game. It started by your grandmother asking me to go and get groceries. Kind of a choose your own adventure. Yeah. See, will you go and get some for me? Some groceries and I put it. So if you put yes or no, it doesn't matter. And she makes you go and get them.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you say no, grandma. I'm not sure.

Isaiah:
That's not too bad. So you left to go to the grocery store, but on your way, there is a fork in the road in your path. What will you do? Go left? Go right? Or pick up a fork.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh, you pick up. So let's pick up the fork.

Isaiah:
We picked up the fork and pick up the fork and decide to keep going straight. In your way is a mountain range. Will you go, what will you do? Go around it, go over it, go through it or go up under the mountain.

Anthony Godfrey:
Let's go under the mountains.

Isaiah:
Do you turn into Steve from Minecraft? Dig straight down and you find diamonds, but as soon as you find them, you fall into Lofa. First of all in Minecraft.

Anthony Godfrey:
Wow. So I digress, but quickly say something. They programmed that so they could show me. Okay. What's your name?

Issac:
Isaac Lawrence.

Anthony Godfrey:
Isaac. What do you have here?

Issac:
I have a pretty basic code here where I just write out all this stuff and he just prints out a basic picture.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh yeah.

Issac:
And I mean, he would like create images with it. It's pretty cool.

Anthony Godfrey:
We're here with Steve, one of the two coding teachers here at Hidden Valley Middle School. What got you interested in teaching this class?

Steve:
They had an opportunity to show up. I think programming has been a lot of fun over the many years. And they said, Hey, do you want to teach coding? And we have an opportunity for you. So I get to show these students how to write code. It's very a logical approach and it shows them step by step how to go from point A to point B.

Anthony Godfrey:
What progression have you seen in these students from the start of this school year to now?

Steve:
Oh, they have gone so far beyond my ideas and imagination. It has been amazing. They've gone from knowing that coding exists, but not much more than that, to be able to write a code, to make a game, ask questions, do things like Mad Libs. They can draw images, which are really amazing. And they've learned a little bit on how to animate them.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, thank you very much for your time. I sure appreciate it.

Steve:
Yeah. Thank you so much.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me your name.

Kevin:
So my name is Kevin Peterson.

Anthony Godfrey:
All right Kevin. What do you have here?

Kevin:
So while we were learning about different things, you can do, kind of like his, choose your own adventure. But for this specifically, we were learning about incorrect input. So you can miss the bus, ride the bus, or you get some driving me, but if you press like an extra option or try to press one, and then there's not one that says you get hit by the bus, your morning was ruined by invalid input.

Anthony Godfrey:
My morning has been ruined by invalid input more than you know. Can I see the code? Can you show me backstage here?

Kevin:
This is just like a little title area. These print statements are how you learn what's happening and stuff. Then there's input, which is user choice. And that's when they choose ABC or anything else. And then there's the "if then statement". So do the F and then if you choose A, you get, you missed the bus but your friend comes by just then. If you do B you take the bus all the way down, then there's our statements. Which means if none of this happens, this happens. And that's how the invalid input happens.

Anthony Godfrey:
I see. Are you kind of amazed at how much code it takes to accomplish things? And do you think about what you see out in the world and how much work it must've taken?

Kevin:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
We're here with Ryan Nielsen, one of the computer programming teachers here at Hidden Valley Middle School. What do you teach through the rest of the day Mr. Nielsen?

Mr. Nielsen:
I teach seventh grade science currently.

Anthony Godfrey:
Had you ever taught coding or been involved in coding before this?

Mr. Nielsen:
Yes. I have a decent background in it. I used to be a Systems Administrator for a company and did some minor coding and HTML paid webpage and stuff like that.

Anthony Godfrey:
I'm really excited that you and other teachers have taken this on. What was involved in being trained and prepared to teach computer programming this year?

Mr. Nielsen:
So the company set us up with some training sessions and we basically went through the exact same programs that the kids are doing this year. And the nice thing about it is the TechSmart Program has everything laid out there so that you can get help on your own.

Anthony Godfrey:
And how long was that training?

Mr. Nielsen:
I think it was two weeks in the summer. And then we've done another week here during the year. Just bit by bit.

Anthony Godfrey:
And what is the ongoing support that's provided by TechSmart?

Mr. Nielsen:
Again, they have during the class help desk that I can just message and they'll get straight back to me. I've never had to wait. But also I email or message after school if I have any big questions.

Anthony Godfrey:
So even if you have a question in real time during class, you can get a quick response from them. And the curriculum is all laid out by TechSmart. Is that correct?

Mr. Nielsen:
Correct. Yes.

Antony Godfrey:
So what have you liked about being able to teach computer programming this year?

Mr. Nielsen:
Some of the kids were saying it's, well, I had one student say I didn't have anything else on and I don't know how they got in here. I don't know if it was recommended by the counselor or not, but he said it's been so fun. Typically the kids love coming in here and doing their coding projects. It's a lot like a puzzle. You have a certain situation that you have to create and then they go and figure out the code, the language to make the computer understand what they're trying to say.

Anthony Godfrey:
I could tell, just talking with a few students in your class that they really liked getting to grapple with that and think things through. And I can imagine in ways that they probably don't even realize their ability to think logically and to problem solve is greatly enhanced by going through these exercises.

Mr. Nielsen:
Yes. When we get into loops and conditionals, it's very easy to take a program that could be a hundred lines of code and change it into 10 and they see that you can make solutions in many different ways. I think that really helps them learn how to solve real life problems differently to be creative.

Anthony Godfrey:
I see you have a flyer here on your desk available for students that outlines some of the companies that use Python, which is the program that's used in these classes: Google, Netflix, Reddit, Instagram, Dropbox, Facebook, everything. We use Spotify, a personal favorite of mine. And that is coding jobs. They start out at $80,000 a year. So it's pretty awesome that a seventh or eighth grade student can be starting to learn something that can lead them to such a profitable and an in-demand career.

Mr. Nielsen:
Yes. And a lot of these companies will take you on and help you get to where you need to be. If you've got a good foundation, they can bring you on and pay for some of your education. So it's a great area to be in. We're just expanding from the tech companies are expanding from here. So, wow.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's a crazy year in every way. And I just want to thank you for taking on the task when so much else is going on. We have to keep moving forward and this is a big step forward for our students. So thank you very much.

Mr. Nielsen:
You're welcome. It's fun to teach.

Anthony Godfrey:
Stay with us. When we come back, find out about the job opportunities for kids who code and why it's a skill that can set students up for a lifetime of success in the workplace.

Break:
It is one of the most prestigious academic achievement programs available for high school students. And we're proud to say, it's coming back to Jordan School District. We're talking about the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program, which will be located at West Jordan High School. The IB Program supports personal and academic achievement for students at the very highest level. IB Diploma Courses take place during a student's junior and senior year in high school. All sophomores are invited to consider the IB Program for next year. There are no pre-requisites for IB and interested in middle school students can start preparing now. Students with the IB Diploma have a better chance at getting into some of the most prestigious universities in the world. In order to find out if your teen is a good candidate for IB visit http://ib.jordanditrict.org, or call West Jordan High School.

Anthony Godfrey:
Bruce Levin, the Founder and CEO of TechSmart. Thanks for being on the Supercast.

Bruce:
It's great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Anthony Godfrey:
I have been working with Bruce and we've been working with Bruce as a District for about a year now getting the Computer Science classes in place. And I wanted to tell you, Bruce, I don't know if I've told you this story, but I saw this email from you about TechSmart. It was a brief, fairly nondescript explanation of the basis of your company and the way you wanted to approach bringing teachers to Computer Science instead of bringing Computer Science teachers to the classroom. Can you tell us a little bit about that approach?

Bruce:
Yeah, absolutely. So, our approach really is to work with districts like yourselves that are really committed to getting students to higher outcomes in coding and Computer Science by implementing pathways, secondary pathways in middle and high school.

And a big part of that is really helping districts build teaching capacity by providing really in-depth professional learning for the teachers. So each of your teachers at middle schools this year, nine teachers participated over the summer in the school year in very intensive, what we are calling Teacher Coding Bootcamps. These are professional learning experiences where teachers are learning the software development skills, which are preparing them to teach the students. And the goal really is to help teachers build the knowledge and skills to teach with the fidelity of a software engineer as they're working with their kids in the classroom.

Anthony Godfrey:
I have spoken with a few students at the middle school and I visited a couple of classes. And when I asked them, a lot of hands shot up saying that they want to pursue this more beyond this class, most hands in fact.

And when I talk with them, they had a deeper appreciation for the games they've been planting and the websites they've been visiting now that they know all the work that goes on behind the scenes to make that possible. So it really opens up their understanding of the world around them in ways I don't think they expected.

Bruce:
Yeah, absolutely. It's funny, you know, this generation is really known digital natives using technology, playing games, using apps, phones. I think what these classes have really done is unlocked a vision of, what does it look like to actually design and develop the types of technology they're starting to use? So, you know, it's great. It's great to hear that and really understanding the science or the computer science behind, the technologies that they use.

Anthony Godfrey:
I think that is probably one of the most important goals early on, and they have the opportunity to take this class if they have a passing interest, and they just want to know more. But they also, if we continue along the path that I'd like us to, as the District, we'll have that ability to move right into a job and a profession, if that's what they would like.

Bruce:
Yeah. Yeah. That's a really great way of looking at this. This is really a pathway to jobs. One of the things that the State of Utah really identified about a year and a half ago is the demand for software developers in the State of Utah. Specifically, there's almost 7500 software development jobs that are open in 2020. So the way that we've envisioned this pathway is really generating a great deal of student interest in getting them engaged in the coding classes in middle school. And ultimately the idea is to build capacity at the higher level at high school, with the goal ultimately of helping students compete for these jobs directly from high school.

So the two classes that are being offered at the middle school or one class this year is the Creative Coding Class. Next year, that's going to extend to the second class, which is going to be a Python Programming Class. Hopefully at some point, that will lead to increasing the number of students at the high school level and really getting students that have higher depth of knowledge, level building portfolios, earning certifications, and really, preparation for ultimate workforce outcomes in this area, which is really in high demand.

Anthony Godfrey:
Of the top cities in the country, I think Utah's ranked 14th in the country in terms of demand for software developers. So yeah, really important work that's being done at the middle schools. We have some international superstar programmers on the way out through this program. Bruce, thank you for your support in making that possible.

Bruce:
Yeah, absolutely. We are happy to partner and support the district and I appreciate it.

Thanks for joining us on the super cast. Remember, education is the most important thing today.

Show Audio Transcription