Welcome to another year of Technology at Hope as we begin our 2018-2019 school year!
As it was last year, Lab is a busy place. As they always do, our wonderful students have been teaching us a lot this year already. As I tell the students, we are all teachers in the Computer Lab!
In the summer of 2016, I upgraded our Lab hardware to greatly improve performance and reliability. My work included reloading computer software and replacing “hard drives” with solid state drives for better performance, and adding 10 Windows PCs to our Lab.
One of our main goals last year was to help students become Makers, Creators, and Designers, rather than simply “consumers” of technology. To support that goal, in July of 2017, we added 2 more 3D printers to our Lab! We now have a total of 3 3D printers.
Creating a 3D model is a fun and exciting activity, but being able to actually touch and hold the design you created is a completely different experience — and can be very fulfilling!
We currently use SketchUp and Tinkercad, but will explore other 3D modeling applications this year as well.
Depending on grade level and the current topics that students are studying in their “home” classrooms, student work in the Lab varies. Topics include keyboarding practice, 3D Modeling, Computer Programming, writing and Internet research, animation, and Computer Science.
Every middle school student uses multiple “apps” on their individually assigned school-owned iPad Air, and these devices and apps are used in each and every class. Our online grading and assignment software (Schoology) is used by the teachers, parents, and students. Students track assignments, take part in group discussions, communicate with teachers, and take part in moderated (teacher-supervised) discussions with their peers.
My Philosophy of Teaching Technology at Hope
We continue our Technology program this year with a focus on helping students of all ages to be comfortable and adept with Technology, while also understanding that the true focus and value of technology is how it can benefit the humans who use it. To that end, students practice “good helping” by only offering help to those who ask for it (or who confirm that they do when asked). We also explore various service projects and activities that benefit others.
Our other rule is never to touch another person’s keyboard or mouse, unless we are working as partners. This is important because it shows respect for one another, and gives each student a chance to learn through their own experience rather than having someone take over their computer station and do it for them. While some of us might learn from watching, most of us need to do things ourselves to really solidify the concepts and skills we are learning. Even better, from our lowest grade to our highest, students practice giving “hints and clues” to their classmates rather than instructing their peers to “click on this… click on that… move that way… hit that key…”. This strengthens collaboration skills among the students, helping them to practice working together. It also helps each student approach their work in a way that makes it truly theirs, rather than the product of someone else’s direct instruction.
Literally every single day in the Lab, we hear, “I can’t do this! This is too hard!”, and later, with a little bit of gentle guidance and encouragement, the same student makes their own discovery and says, “I did it! That was so easy!”. This brings up an opportunity for us to talk about how everything is easy once someone has learned it, and everything is hard before we haven’t! We often say in the Lab, “you don’t know until you know!”
It’s also a good time for us to discuss the way it might make someone else feel when we celebrate things by saying “That’s easy!”, if it isn’t easy yet for someone else nearby. In other words, compassion and empathy are big components of the Technology program at Hope — things that we value and practice every day, in every class.
We are indeed blessed to have such rich technology tools in our school, and we at Hope are all grateful for the support of our parents and larger Hope community in making them available to us all.
More information about our Technology program can be found here.
As always, I welcome your comments, feedback, ideas, and questions.