Q4 Product Updates: Puzzle Builder, Skillmojis, and more

6 creatively customized Skillmoji Characters ( a cowboy koala bear, a fox with a purple mowhawk, a dog dressed as a princess, a cat wearing a beanie, a shark in a suit and sunglasses, and an alien with an orange scarf. And the words Coding is for everyone

We made it to yet another winter break! We have some exciting updates and features we’ve added to the Skill Struck platforms to excite teachers and students in computer science when they return to the classroom in January 2023. 

These changes and updates were inspired by our current partners who are actively using the platforms on a day-to-day basis. A lot of these changes were encouraged by our educators to help engage their students even more in coding.

Take a look below to see what the Skill Struck development and curriculum teams have been up to in the past three months. 

Launch Pad (K-5) Updates

Skill Struck’s K-5 platform, Launch Pad, is about to have a new look! Many of our district partners have shared their perspective on ways we can help engage their K-5 students even more in our K-5 focused platform. We’ve updated Launch Pad to have more gamified interactions, and unique themes that students can customize to their liking. 

New Navigation and Interface 

Starting in January 2023, teachers have the choice to keep the existing Launch Pad interface, or can choose to enable the new interface in the Educator Portal. These changes were designed to help students and teachers navigate the platform easier, while also making it more engaging. These updates also include new illustrations and space themes so students can feel more engaged while they are learning about the fundamentals of coding. 

New Look to Games 

We’ve added more illustrations and themes to all the games within Launch Pad. This allows for more interaction and engagement with students, as they can change the theme of the games toward their preference.

New Puzzle Builder

Launch Pad (K-5) students can now create custom puzzles from scratch and share them with their classmates. They will be able to choose a theme, add rows and columns, decide where to start and end the puzzle, and add elements. When they preview their puzzle, they can use block or text coding to solve their custom puzzle.

Step-by-Step Sprite Character Movement

Students can now make their sprite characters move one step at a time with the blocks or text-code they’ve created in their puzzles. This will allow them to troubleshoot their code easier, making it so they can do more complex algorithms. 

JavaScript to Block Conversion

Students can now convert their JavaScript code to blocks in Skill Struck’s puzzles. In order for the conversion to work, students must have the correct JavaScript code. Skill Struck’s built-in autograder will let them know if they have made a mistake in their code so they can learn how to fix the code in order to run it properly as blocks. 

Customize Skillmoji 

When students complete challenges and activities in Skill Struck they are awarded points. These points are collected on their account. Now, students can spend their points they’ve earned on creating custom Skillmojis. 

Educator Portal Updates

Our educators rely on the student progress feature in Skill Struck’s Educator Portal. The student progress feature allows teachers to look at how their students are progressing through Skill Struck’s curriculum at a macro and micro level. They can see progression from a classroom viewpoint, and narrow down to each individual student. The updates we’ve made make it even easier for teachers to manage and see how their students are doing. 

Manually Mark Lessons as Complete 

Teachers can now manually mark lessons as complete in student progress. This way, teachers have more control over their classroom. 

Percentages Available in Student Progress 

Teachers can now view if a student has started a lesson and what percentage of the lesson they have completed. This allows teachers to easily understand where students are in the curriculum. 

Other Platform Updates

Students spend a lot of time on their platforms creating websites, games, and more. To help make it a more engaging experience, and help them build a portfolio they can use for college and work applications, we’ve added the following features. 

In-Platform Image Bank

We’ve added an image bank in our Launch Pad and Voyage platforms. This image bank can now be accessed by all students in these two platforms. Students can search for images. When they click on an image, it automatically copies the image URL so they can paste it easily into their code. 

Export Projects Into GitHub

Students can export the work they’ve created in Skill Struck’s Voyage to their GitHub portfolios via “My Projects.” This means that even after high school, students can still access the work they completed on the Skill STruck platform and share with potential employers and college admissions. 

Curriculum Updates

A lot of our teacher partners are new to computer science. That’s why they heavily rely on Skill STruck’s built in curriculum. We’ve added new courses for grades K-12. See below for more information. 

Cross-Curricular Content in K-6 Math and Science

We’ve had many requests from our partners to add more cross-curricular content. We’ve added additional cross-curricular content in our Flight Training platform. 

New “Knowledge Pillars” Python Certification 

We know many of our partners care about how we prepare students for their future careers. That is why we decided to create and align to an additional Python certification. This new material prepares students for the Knowledge Pillars Python Certification.

Community Updates

To help teachers connect with other teachers who are leading computer science courses, and with Skill Struck curriculum experts, Skill Struck has a platform called Community. The purpose of this platform is to help prepare teachers for their CS courses. These features and updates we’ve added will continue to help teachers feel confident in the classroom. 

Search Activities by CSTA Standards 

Teachers can now search activities in Skill Struck’s Community by CSTA standard. That way, teachers will be able to hit the standards that are required by their school, district, and/or state. 

Praxis Prep Course 

Many states require Computer Science teachers to complete the Praxis Computer Science certification. We have completed a prep course for this Praxis test, which is included for partners with Community Plus. If you aren’t sure if your district has access to the premium Professional Development offerings on Community Plus, feel free to reach out to your Customer Success Manager. 

And with that, we want to wish you all Happy Holiday’s and a Happy New Year! In 2023 we will continue to build products and features that not only help support teachers in the classroom, but help administrators create equitable computer science pathways unique to their district, all while engaging students in rigorous computer science education. Until next year! 

Learn more about Skill Struck at www.skillstruck.com

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