Welcome to the Headmaster's Blog where you'll find updates, thoughts, and events regarding Saint David's School, the education of boys, and other items of interest. This is by no means meant to be a complete account of all that happens at Saint David's. Please refer to the school's website for more complete details -- it's more a Headmaster's musings.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Integrated Technology at Saint David's

Computer teachers are leaving their labs to work side by side with subject area teachers in the classroom. They are becoming technology integrators.

Saint David's is slowly moving from a very traditional approach to teaching technology (lab based) to a more fully integrated one.  The school views technology as one tool among many that has the potential to improve the teaching-learning process.  However, the school also believes that the more this tool is connected to and fully integrated with other curricular areas the better where it is more real and more useful. Skills learned in isolation (for example, in the computer lab) are rarely transferred by the boys to their other academic areas. Ideally, skills should be taught when needed and applied immediately to enhance learning.  Following are just two current examples of where this is happening at Saint David's. 

As part of a unit on mapping, 1st grade boys use technology to study maps and satellite imagery of the school's immediate neighborhood while learning about local New York City landmarks. Boys use mapping software to create maps and practice giving and following directions using the cardinal directions (walk two blocks east, turn south…etc). Ultimately, they will create maps with written directions and use them to lead a small group of peers on an excursion to the Metropolitan Museum and back. Technology teachers are working with 1st grade social studies teachers in an interdisciplinary approach to the use of the tech skills for a purpose.

In another current example, as one component of an Engineering unit this term, 4th grade boys are responding to the needs of Japanese children after Japan’s terrible earthquake and tsunami last year. Through a series of hands-on building activities, boys are learning about what types of structures can withstand an earthquake. After constructing their own structures, the boys are then testing them on a red “shake table” that simulates an earthquake. Next, the boys will use three dimensional drawing software to draw their vision for a redesigned school for the NE coast of Japan. 

The boys' virtual 3D models will incorporate lessons learned from their study of shake-proof buildings and their hands-on experimentation.  Their structures will include other safety features, plus other amenities that will make it a nice place for Japanese children to go to school every day.

There are, of course, times when dedicated skills have to be taught in a lab setting.  These skills tend to be the more discreet skills associated, for example, with actually programming software, using robotics, or computer hardware construction.

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