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Fort Yates Middle School will be taking part in 'Hour of Code™’ on Dec. 9. Staff from North Dakota Information Technology-EduTech, Microsoft Teals, and North Dakota Department of Public Instruction have collaborated to plan this schoolwide event. Fort Yates Middle School educators and administration are implementing many facets into this event, to include career awareness focused on computer science and cybersecurity and emphasize Indigenous connections to the topics.   

“We know whatever career field that our students choose to do when they grow up, whether they go into medicine, business, or the arts, understanding how technology works will give them the confidence and skills to be successful in their careers,” said Levi Kalsow, principal for Fort Yates Public School.  

Kalsow said there are several hands-on activities planned for each grade level during the hour of code event and he is excited to see the students collaborate and learn more about computer science. He said the goal is to give every student the opportunity to learn about coding and make computer science more accessible at the school. 

“Getting hands-on experience provides great value to students. It helps develop logical processes and understanding of how things work,” said the State of North Dakota’s Chief Information Security Officer Michael Gregg. “We are impressed with Fort Yate Middle School’s participation which will benefit students not just in computer science and cyber but develops problem-solving skills that can be applied across all subjects." 

“'Hour of Code™’ is an engaging and fun way to encourage our North Dakota students to become more familiar with computer science and coding. We are grateful to Code.org, the North Dakota Information Technology Department and our other partners in this effort to offer computer science and coding instruction in our schools. This is vital in helping them to become good digital citizens, and to gain foundational knowledge that ranks in importance alongside reading, writing, speaking, and mathematics,” said Kirsten Baesler, North Dakota’s state superintendent of public instruction. 

The event will begin with a kick-off message from Kalsow, followed by messages from Kirsten Baesler, Superintendent of NDDPI and Shawn Riley, North Dakota’s Chief Information Officer, highlighting the importance of computer science and cybersecurity and encouraging the students to learn foundational skills. 

Tammy Greff, computer science and science/health teacher for Fort Yates, will lead 6th Grade students and provide lessons on coding with code combat. This is a next step for the 6th graders as there is a subset of students who will lead part of this lesson to mentor the other students in learning to code. Resources below will be explored.  

• CodeCombat - Coding games to learn Python and JavaScript | CodeCombat 

• https://hourofcode.com/ccai 

• https://hourofcode.com/cocomgame 


7th Grade students will be led by Nancy Mahlem, Microsoft Teals ND Regional manager. She will utilize the dance party lesson.   

• https://hourofcode.com/dance2019 


Tyler Ward, NDIT-EduTech IT specialist, will lead 8th Grade students utilizing coding with Minecraft lessons. 

• Minecraft Hour of Code 2021 | Minecraft Education Edition 

• Live Co Taught Lesson for Classrooms - Hour of Code: TimeCraft! 


The entire Fort Yates Middle School will follow up with a school wide lesson on beading. Students will utilize step by step directions to create earrings. These directions simulate coding as they are line by line directions.  They draw ties to the if/then statements utilized in coding and this becomes clearer to students. Making these connections assist students in realizing patterning, visualizing and understanding if/then statements are already taught in their culture and these foundational skills can give them a leg up in learning to code.  

The earring beading project is provided by Sister Beads. Tawny (Trottier) Cale is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and the Spirit Lake Nation. She graduated from HS in ND, obtained her bachelor's degree from Mayville State University, and taught high school English in North Dakota for one year. She is owner/operator of a small beading business named Sister Beads LLC. The beading project YouTube Link of instructions can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHxU0jI_L7c&t=473s 

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