Tag Archives: online courses

Python Programming for 4th-6th Graders

It’s not too late (yet) for your child to join the Coders’ Lab!

Our new Coders’ Lab class, called Explorations in Coding I, will teach students how to code “for real” using the Python programming language. It will also help them discover how they can make a difference in the world through computer science!

How it works

Students will meet twice weekly with one of our best teachers and other curious and highly capable kids. They will also have independent time to work through modules and develop projects on their own. Classes at this level are typically recommended for middle school students, but bright and motivated students in grades 4-6 will feel right at home. We think your child has what it takes! No prior computer science experience is necessary.

“Learning to write programs stretches your mind, and helps you think better, creates a way of thinking about things that I think is helpful in all domains.” 

-Bill Gates

Help your child become 21st century-ready

This class will help your child grow in problem-solving, critical thinking skills, creativity, collaboration, and communication – all from the comfort of your home. So, what are you waiting for? Hurry, class starts November 2nd!

Enrichment Classes are Back – Online!

Are you looking for joyful and engaging online learning experiences? Do you know a bright elementary or middle school student who would like a chance to connect with other like-minded kids? Our Enrichment Expeditions program is a new way to experience the classes you have come to love from the Belin-Blank Center. Shake up your pandemic routine with bite-sized lessons that will cultivate interests, spark curiosity, and enhance learning!   

Enrichment Expeditions are 1-3 hour online experiences built around topics that kids don’t often have a chance to learn about in school. Each class includes:

  • Live instruction from vetted teachers who can work with bright students. 
  • Curriculum developed or approved by our gifted education experts.
  • A fun supplies kit with everything you’ll need to support the hands-on activities. No shopping, ordering, or hunting around your house! 

Each expedition introduces students in grades 2-8 to advanced level topics and other bright kids their age. Plus, these engaging online classes are limited to 10 students, giving children room to enjoy their instructor’s unique talents and hands-on experiences with their classmates. Our current classes explore aviation, female role models, problem-solving strategies, neuroscience, survival skills, and more! Students do not have to be in a gifted and talented program to participate.

We are creating a variety of evening and weekend Enrichment Expeditions to fit any schedule. With the addition of new classes throughout the academic year, we aim to have something for everyone! If you or a child in your life has an idea for an expedition, let us know, and we’ll do our best to create the experience. 

Start your expedition today at belinblank.org/enrichment!  

Professional Learning Online

The Belin-Blank Center, in partnership with departments in the University of Iowa College of Education, offers a variety of online classes this summer.  While we would love to have you join us on campus for our Chautauqua course series, we know that many of those advocating for gifted/talented students benefit from the flexible online format.  Each of the online classes is offered for one semester hour of credit and are three weeks in length.  You can learn how to develop creativity in every learner, facilitate research projects, enhance your understanding of differentiation at the secondary level, and more!

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If you will be joining us on campus for the Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute, we offer your choice of two hours of academic credit; the Center provides a 50% tuition scholarship for those who take advantage of the graduate credit.

To see a full list of our summer course offerings, please click here: https://www2.education.uiowa.edu/belinblank/educators/courses/schedule.aspx.

To get registered for classes please follow the steps listed here: https://www2.education.uiowa.edu/belinblank/educators/courses/registration.aspx

We look forward to working with you as you pursue your TAG Endorsement through the University of Iowa!

Iowa Online AP Academy: What Are the Options for Online Learning?

The Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA) is a great resource for Iowa students who are interested in AP opportunities beyond what is offered at their high schools. Through IOAPA, students are able to take AP courses and receive guidance and feedback within the classroom setting. However, for some students, IOAPA may not provide the type of experience they are looking for. As students plan their schedules for next year, what about other opportunities for online learning?

MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are courses typically offered by colleges and universities (often for free) with the goal of providing increased access to education. Although an increased interest in MOOCs has encouraged universities to provide credit for individuals who take these courses, there is no consistent way to ensure that the work put forth in these classes will result in cost savings or credit at college. Nevertheless, MOOCs continue to be a popular and growing option for people of all ages. More on MOOCs can be found here.

EdX courses are another option for free online courses (including MOOCs) that cover a wide variety of disciplines. Again, the developers of EdX hope to provide users with access to online courses regardless of geography. Recently, EdX has begun adding options for AP Biology coursework on their website. Although this offering is relatively new, the course provider noted that this does not translate to high school credit or give students opportunities for completing science labs at this time.

Online schools are another way that students might be able to seek out higher level coursework in areas that are of interest to them. In the past few years, several external agencies have partnered with school districts in Iowa to offer alternatives for Iowa students at all levels. Although online schools often offer AP courses, the quality tends to vary significantly, and some argue against the for-profit nature of online schools, so students interested in this option should carefully research their options.

Iowa high schools also often partner with local community colleges or four-year institutions to offer concurrent enrollment courses or post-secondary enrollment options. We have discussed the pros and cons of these options in past posts, one of the main drawbacks being uncertainty about how credits might transfer for specific courses, especially those coming from community colleges.

Why choose IOAPA over these other options?

IOAPA offers several things that other online programs do not. First, it provides consistently high-quality Advanced Placement coursework that is designed to fit within an existing high school student’s class schedule. IOAPA classes are also designed to provide students new to online coursework with on-site support through site coordinators and mentors. These staff members help IOAPA students adjust to the nuances of online courses, and also aid students in finding resources and communicating with their course instructors. IOAPA courses are provided free of charge to Iowa high school students, and IOAPA students also have the opportunity to participate in AP exam review sessions for their IOAPA courses at no cost. IOAPA has very high completion rates (84%) compared to other online programs, and students tend to perform as well on the AP exam as students in traditional AP classes.

Interested in learning more about IOAPA? Visit our website at belinblank.org/ioapa

2014 New Year’s Resolution: Sign Up for Professional Development

A wide variety of opportunities are available for Spring 2014 to support educators (and even parents!) in their professional development in gifted education.  The Center’s website lists the variety of online courses, with choices in all the strands required for the State of Iowa Endorsement in Gifted Education.  The Center will also provide two Webinars in the spring; Drs. Megan Foley Nicpon and Susannah Wood will talk about social-emotional needs of the gifted on January 30, 4:30 – 6:00 PM, and Dr. Volker Thomas will explore family issues and giftedness, April 1, 6:30 – 7:30 PM, a time designed to appeal to parents as well as educators.

The Center is making plans for summer workshops in a NEW format for 2014.  Similar to past summers, the Center is partnering with the College of Education to provide online workshops beginning early in June.  The 34th Belin-Blank Fellowship again will target those new to the field of gifted education on the University of Iowa campus during the last week in June (applications are welcome in January).  In July, however, we’re hosting two new Belin-Blank Chautauquas.  The Chautauqua movement of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries epitomized adult education, complete with cultural enrichment and entertainment. The Center is hosting Chautauqua I from July 14 – 18, and Chautauqua II from July 21 – 26, also featuring professional development (three workshops each week), as well as cultural enrichment and entertainment.

Look for details early in 2014.  The Chautauquas will include optional evening events, partial tuition scholarships, and economical first-come, first-served residence hall housing for those staying for either or both weeks.