Academics » Technology and Innovation

Technology and Innovation

Using Technology as a Tool for Instruction

Notre Dame Academy Elementary School is committed to innovation and the use of technology as a tool for instruction.
 
Rather than having students leave the classroom to use technology is a separate space, technology has been distributed to each of the classrooms for students to use in the course of regular academic subjects. A qualified technology coach works closely with teachers and students to assist in the planning and implementation of lessons that are highly motivating, utilize small group instruction where appropriate, differentiate instruction, and integrate technology skills into the curriculum.

All classrooms are outfitted with SmartBoards or InFocus televisions that more than simply “clean” blackboards; they improve instruction by enabling teachers to develop interactive presentations for students and deliver content more creatively.
 
  • Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten classrooms have access to a SmartTable, allowing students to work on individual or small group activities tailored to their ability levels.
  • Grades K-3 use a set of Spheros to acquire prerequisite skills for robotics.
  • Grades 4 and 5 regularly use WeDo 2.0 robotics kits.
  • Robotics is an elective for students in grades 5-8, wherein students further their study in the field on the more advanced MindStorm EV3 kits.
 
Each grade from Kindergarten to grade 5 has a set of iPads for student use. In addition to using iPads during regular coursework, other relevant activities include, but are not limited to coding, research, and access to highly engaging learning materials at varied levels of difficulty to facilitate differentiated instruction.

Students in grades 5 – 8 take a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) course weekly. This hands-on course is highly motivating and helps students develop problem solving and higher order thinking skills as they learn about these exciting disciplines using an integrated approach.

Students in grades 6 to 8 use TCI, a fully interactive, software-based program that has allowed for not only the more fluid integration of technology skills, but also the ability for students to have access to a variety of leveled materials and complete and submit work electronically.

IXL is utilized across most grade levels to enable students to work on specific strategies identified as strengths or areas of grown at their own individual needs and paces.

Proper use, or “citizenship,” has been a focus, and students practice responsible use of technology not only by handling the equipment appropriately, but also by following communication guidelines and rules.
 
1:1 Google Chromebook Program, Grades 6 to 8
 
This year, we are excited to implement a new technology program for students in grades 6 to 8. The 1:1 Google Chromebook Program will enable teachers to create more powerful learning opportunities for students and help transform instruction in core subject areas.
 
The plan will build on the existing technology program by adding new topics and skills that will include:

  • Being responsible for a laptop
  • Digital Citizenship (proper use of technology)
  • Organizing and maintaining a school-issued Gmail account
  • Google and Gmail applications such as Google Docs, Sheets, Drive, etc.
  • Managing file organization by creating folders and naming files appropriately
  • Creating, retrieving, and submitting assignments digitally
  • Test taking skills in a computer-based setting
 
Using the Google platform, students will learn to...
 
  • use gmail through the use of their own Notre Dame Academy issued email accounts;
  • access teacher-created materials from anywhere, at any time, and from any device with internet accessibility;
  • complete, submit, and receive feedback on assignments directly on the digital version, eliminating the need for using paper and the possibility of losing the original copy;
  • create documents, presentations, and spreadsheets for school assignments;
  • access vast sources of approved learning materials, including YouTube for Education, via the NDA wireless internet and content-filtering system; and
  • collaborate on assignments with other students remotely—all students who are working on a group project can access, view, and edit the same shared document at one time from various locations, making it easier and more efficient to accomplish the task.
 
Some advantages to using Google apps in the educational setting:
  • All documents and changes are automatically saved.
  • Documents can be created to allow for either individual or shared viewing or editing.
  • Each time edits are made, prior versions are saved, making it virtually impossible to lose information; deleted text will still be accessible, as will the name of the user who deleted it.
  • For everything that is added or removed on shared documents, the application color codes and labels each user’s work, so that teachers and fellow students can track changes.
  • All activity on a shared document is logged, making it easier for teachers to see how much each student actually contributed to that assignment.
  • Students will no longer need flash drives or have to email themselves copies of their assignments, eliminating the confusion that always arises when there is more than one version of a document.
 
To this end, Notre Dame chose Chromebooks because they 
  • support the Google platform, 
  • have been designed as learning tools to be used in an educational setting, 
  • allow for a suitable amount of adult control and supervision, and 
  • do not require a substantial financial investment.
 
Moving to a single type of technological device will allow for the following benefits:
  • Consistency in the type of device being used will allow for more direct and in-depth instruction. 
  • The teacher will be able to wirelessly project any student’s work instantly to the SmartBoard for class viewing, allowing for not only an improved level of class participation, but also a more effective method of monitoring each student’s activities on the device during instruction.
  • The school will be able to control the applications that are installed on every device, minimizing the presence of distractions like games, instant messaging, or social media apps.
  • The teacher will be able to disable certain features temporarily (such as the use of the Internet during a test) or on a long-term basis (like Instant Messenger). 
  • The school can ensure that special software is installed on each device allowing NDA teachers and administration to monitor student use of the internet, NDA gmail, and the Google platform. This will be helpful in investigating the misuse of these tools and assigning consequences.
 
Once mastered, the students will be able to easily adapt these skills to any platform and any virtual classroom they encounter in the future. Traditional CPU’s will be available so that students can still have access to the Microsoft Office Suite when necessary.

At a time when standardized testing is moving from paper to computer-based style assessments, and higher education is increasingly utilizing digital learning, our students will continue to be exceptionally prepared for high school and beyond.