As parents, we know that technology offers a great deal of good to our world and can help foster great learning, but without guidance, also could open young children to social media and other online portals that are not developmentally appropriate or safe. Our program and our teachers know how to guide children along both sides of this reality.
Students in Pre-kindergarten through Third Grade use classroom based stations of iPad mini 2’s, engaging in a diverse array of learning applications and educational websites to support the instructional objectives of that day’s lessons. Teachers plan for the learning goals of those applications and monitor students’ use of these device. Students in Fourth through Eighth Grade carry an HP Stream notebook with them throughout the day. The school owns these devices, and students do not take them home; rather, they save their work online and can access that work from home as well. Students in our primary and intermediate program also come to our computer lab as a specials area class each week, to learn key skills for computer literacy: most especially keyboarding, and core skills in Microsoft Office, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Additionally, all classrooms are equipped with a Smart Board and projector, allowing on-screen presentations to become interactive. Students can come to the board and activate the computer interface by physically touching the surface. A great manner of interactive software is in place, allowing children to solve problems, analyze questions, and work collaboratively, while the teacher can choose the base platform and guide their work.
We maintain a filter to block any inappropriate content, and teachers also have an additional filter in place where, classroom by classroom, each teacher can choose to turn the internet on or off for their students, or allow students to just a handful of sites, instead of general web access. All of these efforts ensure that the technology our students use remains a learning tool only, and never an opportunity for distraction. With this, students are able to engage in meaningful learning activities that engage diverse learning styles and can be a great deal of fun as well, and we make our belief statement a tangible, living belief guiding our daily work.