Technology is a powerful tool in the service of learning. For researching, for organizing data, for communication, for presentations-- devices of various kinds are indispensable.
Technology in the form of laptop computers, tablets, desktop computers, and projectors is available to teachers across grades and curricula. However, there is no gratuitous use of technology. Students are no sooner engaged in electronic activities without a meaningful purpose than they would be assigned busy work.
At Friends School Haverford every tool and activity is calibrated to support the construction of intellectual frameworks for understanding the world in which we live. Third and fourth grade’s videoconference with Syrian refugee children and the seventh-grade students’ PowerPoint presentation on the pros and cons of “clean” coal energy production employed technology as the right tool for the job, but in the service of compelling learning.
All students in grades 1 through 8 participate in a six-week course of study in code and design taught at our school by BSD (Build Something Different) Academy.
Nursery School through Kindergarten
The role of technology in the classrooms of the youngest students at our school is limited. When the prekindergarten studies human anatomy there is an iPad activity that allows four-year-olds to virtually explore the digestive system. Priority is given to actual (as opposed to virtual) engagement in outdoor exploration, imaginary play in the dress up corner, investigations at the science station and the like.
First through Fourth Grade
In elementary grades there is more often a role for technology. Whether providing access to an unlimited number of virtual shapes with which every individual student explores tessellation in a math class, or researching the size, structure, and materials used in the canvas covered wagons ubiquitous on the Oregon trail during the westward migration of the early 19 th century, teachers make devices available to individual students on an as-needed basis.
Each middle school student has a computer she or he uses at school. Some families opt to have their child bring this computer home. Students are taught to be savvy and responsible users of technology. One-to-one computing affords middle school teachers maximum flexibility to use technology when it serves a purpose best. For example, a student edits video footage as part of a presentation of the physics principles learned in science class while building a bridge from prescribed materials designed to withstand the pressure of a measured amount of weight while spanning a specific distance.