Technology Integration in Lower School
How do we best prepare our students to thrive in a complex and interdependent world that is becoming increasingly dependent on the successful integration of technology into our daily lives?
This is one of the questions we are continuously asking ourselves and using to help guide our instruction in Lower School.
We are blessed to have a dedicated instructional technology specialist in Lower School, Cindy Fordham, who works closely with all grade levels to provide meaningful learning experiences that help support our teachers and students as they navigate the digital world.
As I reviewed Cindy’s comments for our third-quarter report cards, I was impressed by all the exciting and innovative experiences happening in Lower School. She has been collaborating with several departments across campus to enhance students’ ability to engage in skills that will position them for success:
Creative thinking, critical thinking, and problem solving;
Constructing knowledge and processes using technology;
Using digital media environments and resources to work collaboratively and create a variety of products that support learning;
Researching and information fluency;
Evaluating media content by applying standards and criteria;
Analyzing digital content by comparing and contrasting;
Understanding and using technology systems and applications effectively;
Communicating information effectively using a variety of media;
Understanding and applying Digital Citizenship
Fifth-graders have been focusing on creating original content and managing their own digital portfolios. As they work in their Google Site portfolios, they are able to apply the following digital citizenship concepts: online responsibilities, personal and private information, communicating online while understanding the power of words, strategies for keyword searching to locate and evaluate information more effectively, and respecting the ownership of others’ content. They are also engaged in the important work of understanding and using different technology systems and applications effectively while also being asked to collaborate with others and reflect on the process and the product.
Fourth-graders have completed digital citizenship lessons on the Rings of Responsibility and Private and Personal Information. During these lessons the students reflect upon their “offline” responsibilities and examine their “online” responsibilities to themselves, their family and friends, and the larger community. They also have just completed an Immigrant Project that helped them understand other cultures around the globe. Students used a variety of media resources to complete personal interviews and prepared a digital presentation. In addition to the core course work, students had the opportunity to engage in an independent work day where they researched a variety topics that they were passionate about and created presentations using school or personal digital devices.
Third-graders were immersed in their amazing animal research projects this past quarter. Students used traditional print and digital resources to research their chosen animal. They did a great job taking notes and managing information from multiple sources. Google Presentations was used to showcase students’ learning. During this project, students chose a presentation design, inserted images, text, bullets, diagrams, maps, animations, transitions, and credits. They searched for descriptions, habitats, predators-prey, diet, and interesting facts in learning about their animal. They edited, revised, had others to help proofread, used the computer lab, used the center lab, used chromebooks, used the library, used flash drives, and reached a final presentation that was impressive!
Second-graders used PebbleGo (a digital database provided through Winston Library) to choose a biography in order to create a timeline consisting of six important events from the biography. Students matched information with dates and practiced note-taking skills as they gathered the timeline information. They also explored computer programming using Scratch (a basic computer programming language) and Scratch task cards. Scratch task cards provide 12 different programming activities that introduce the concept of logical thinking, program design, and problem solving. To prepare for the second grade play, “Children Around the World,” they also created original artwork, getting ideas from their lines in the play. With Wixie (our creative multimedia program) students used shapes, drawing tools, patterns, colors, resizing tools, and a variety of font styles to create art that was projected as a digital background.
First-graders have become comfortable with basic computer operations, logging into their school account, navigating to folders, files, and using our Lower School Resource page to access our web-based programs and resources. Students used online research tools and non-fiction books to learn about a chosen animal. They have completed a keyboarding pre-test, using Type to Learn 4, and are now well into lessons that introduce the keyboard, which is our main interaction with a computer.
Kindergarten students continue to do a great job with basic computer operations. Students also used SMART Notebook software this quarter to find matching pairs from one of the many interactive lesson activities available with SMART Notebook. Once all the pairs were found, they inserted their own images into the matching pairs template to end up with a new game that they had created. In addition to creating their own matching pairs games, they worked with extending patterns using Kidspiration3. Using virtual pattern blocks, students extended three patterns that were quite challenging. They also created and extended their own patterns, making sure the patterns repeated.
What is most exciting is that technology is being integrated into the daily lives of our Lower School students and is used to enhance the instruction in the core subject areas; it is not being taught in isolation, and projects are all related to the learning happening in the classroom. Technology is viewed as an instructional tool that can leverage the experience and outcome for our students and teachers. This aligns and is supported by Ravenscroft’s most recent Strategic Vision: Advancing our Legacy – Designing our Strategic Future
We are truly raising our children in a very different world than we grew up in, and I am proud that our Lower School faculty continues to prepare them for their future and not our past.