At the Elementary School technology is used as a tool, not as a separate subject. By the time our students exit fifth grade, our goal is for them to seamlessly integrate technology into their lives. The children learn to use common software applications through experimentation and exploration, while completing projects that relate to their classroom learning.
The Elementary School STEAM lab (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math), a hallway computer lab, laptops in fourth and fifth grade, iPads, iPods, and classroom computer stations, support children in their use of technology. While kindergarten and first grade visit the STEAM lab every week, students in second through fifth grade work intensively in the STEAM lab during “tech weeks.” During a “tech week" the children work on projects related to literature, social studies or science. Students are then inspired by their learning to invent or engineer something that relates to a curricular theme or by simply designing and making something that solves a problem. For example, in third grade, students might create animal trading cards, a digital zoo or movies about a biome that they have researched, built and then green-screened themselves into in order to give a virtual tour. Using stop-motion videography and artistic tools, fourth grade students make claymation movies about the food chain. Programming and engineering-based play begins as early as kindergarten, enhancing each student’s ability to think sequentially, identify relevant information and problem solve.
Related to technology is a program in “digital citizenship” where second through fifth grade students and parents learn skills to help manage their digital life in a safe and constructive manner.
Fifth graders are expected to apply technology in their daily lives as they use laptop computers in their classrooms. They continuously publish class assignments, reports and stories. They do extensive research using the Internet. Fifth graders focus on finding legitimate sources of information on the web and become experts in digital storytelling. They use Microsoft Office software along with cloud-based Google Drive tools to create multimedia presentations, documents, spreadsheets, and websites throughout the year. A highlight of the year is the annual “Robotathon,” the science and technology collaboration that showcases each fifth grader’s ability to design and construct a machine that can complete a number of challenges.