The Digital World of Disney


Towne Acres brings Disney magic to Digital Learning Day

Towne Acres principal Dr. Josh Simmons helps students with a coding activity during Digital Learning Day last Thursday. PHOTOS BY DAVE ONGIE
By Dave Ongie, News Editor

When Walt Disney sat down over 90 years ago and drew a cartoon mouse named Mickey, he had no way of knowing his creation would jump off the page and capture the imagination of children around the world.

Last Thursday, students at Towne Acres Elementary School spent the day delving deeper into the vision and creativity of Disney, who went on to revolutionize animation and change the face of tourism with his theme parks. Dr. Josh Simmons, principal of Towne Acres, said the school’s digital leaders came up with the idea to assign a Disney theme to the annual Digital Learning Day, where each school in the Johnson City School System participates.

Towne Acres librarian Donna Patterson helps Owen Henley and Davis Crowe with a Disney themed quiz.

Simmons said the wide variety of Disney offerings – from the princesses and Mickey Mouse for younger children to Marvel superheroes and Star Wars for the older kids – made Disney an ideal touchstone to engage the students with technology.

“I think when the seven of them put their heads together, that was just something that made sense, to have it where each grade level represented a different (Disney park),” Simmons said.

Third-grade teacher Karen Bunch records a student in front of a green screen.

Each grade level at Towne Acres represented a different area of Walt Disney World. Kindergarten classes comprised the Animal Kingdom, and students learned more about animals through Technology. The first grade was Galaxy’s Edge, and the Star Wars theme made space a natural area of study. Second graders spent the day coding in the Magic Kingdom, third graders made movies in Hollywood Studios and fourth-graders worked on engineering projects in Epcot.

All of the activities involved technology, and most required the students to use their creativity to complete projects that require skills included in their everyday curriculum. Simmons said the learning that took place last Thursday was a testament to his teachers.

“It certainly makes it come to life,” he said. “It makes it feel real and it makes it feel practical. Our teachers have done a great job today trying to tie in as much of the curriculum and content standards as possible.

A Towne Acres fourth-grader helps a kindergartener complete her activity during Digital Learning Day. The two were paired together through Towne Acres’ “tech buddies” program.

“Our teachers are amazing. The amount of time and planning they’ve tied into this is really just reflective of the time and energy they put in every week.”


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