A few weeks ago, several lower school teachers attended a technology retreat organized by the AIMS (Association of Independent Maryland Schools) organization. The purpose of the retreat every year is to gather together independent school teachers and school leaders that are involved with STEM or technology programs in their institutions. New products are introduced, topics are put on the table, and conversations take place that lead to new ideas.
One workshop topic was on diversity and technology. We discussed technology access and the ability of technology to empower learning for all students equally. It was fascinating to hear schools discuss their commitment to diversity in all aspects of school education.
Another valuable gathering was on the topic of teaching digital citizenship. Parents often have a love/hate relationship with their children’s devices- and for good reason. It takes tremendous effort to stay on top of what students can and want to do via the Internet. Schools feel this responsibility as well. We need to be mindful of monitoring and limiting the use of devices to educational purposes, and we feel a compelling mission to teach respect for this very powerful medium. Schools shared their best practices including hosting mandatory parent nights, holding parent coffees to share ideas, surveying students about what they are allowed and not allowed to do at home, helping parents build “good” uses for technology with their children like creating a digital family cookbook or researching the family vacation, and having a “tech corner” section on their school website that keeps parents up to date by teaching them about new technology fads. The conversation was led by Robbye Fox, a member of the PEP or Parent Encouragement Program. I have included links to her blog posts and organization below.
Coding was a popular topic of several workshops. Our science teachers, Barry James and Ellen Rizzuto, were excited about the presentations involving lower school robotics and coding programs. We brainstormed what seemed appropriate for each age boy in our lower school and will continue the conversation next year as we work to integrate technology, makerspace, and coding into our grade level curriculums.
All of us left with wonderful take-aways for Gilman lower school. Look for more blog entries about the ways technology is playing an increasingly valuable role in learning at school. Also watch for more information about how we are looking into ways of supporting family and school-wide efforts to keep our boys safe while on-line.
I hope that my communication with you each week encourages “talking points” to inspire conversation with your son or sons. Here are some “talking points” based on recent school events.
- If you are in Kindergarten- What did you think of the Reptile Man who visited school recently? What was your favorite reptile of the group?
- If you are in Prep-One- Did you enjoy your recent trip to the zoo? Did you see any reptiles like the ones that came to school this week? What was your favorite song from the spring concert?
- If you are in First Grade- How was your experience of Pioneer Day? Was it hard to learn all the lines for your play? What Pioneer food did you enjoy eating the most? How did you do at horseshoe toss? Did you enjoy making clay pots in art class?
- If you are in Second Grade- Are fidget spinners still the rage at school? Did you enjoy singing at the lower school spring concert? What was your favorite song?
- If you are in Third Grade- What was your overall impression of climbing the Alpine Tower? Did you challenge yourself and help support others in their challenges?
- If you are in Fourth Grade- Which homeroom won the water polo tournament? Was there good sportsmanship throughout the games?
- If you are in Fifth Grade- How did the water polo tournament go for fifth grade? Who won and how were they victorious? What strategies did your team use? What pattern did you paint on your Colonial plate?