Digital Media Lab
Technology Philosophy at Harvard Elementary: Technology stems from the Greek word techne, which means art, skill, craft, or the way, manner, or means by which a thing is gained. As such, technology is a means not an end, and my approach is to enable students to use technology to communicate and express themselves in a world which is increasingly dominated by technology. Along with this emphasis of technology as a means, I emphasize the proper use of technology, including respecting copyright and citing sources. Internet safety is also addressed.
There are basically two development levels with the children I teach at Harvard, and I emphasize two different levels of skill appropriation for the "primary" and "elementary" grade levels.
Primary Grades (Prek-2)
Since the children in the primary grades, i.e. prek through second, are just developing their fine motor skills and are at a pre-operational or pre-conceptual level developmentally, I emphasize familiarizing the children with the keyboard, mouse and navigation skills. I use educational websites that have game formats as well as the district adopted Learning.com curriculum. As an enrichment focus, we focus on using a developmentally appropriate word processing program, Clicker, that reads to the students what they have written, has a simple spell check and suggests word completions. They are also able to integrate pictures and use graphic tools to enhance their pictures with this template. Second graders are encouraged to pick more in depth topics of interest, and I will often create templates that include pictures and terminology grids that match their current IB planner.
Elementary Grades (3-5)
With "elementary" grades of third through fifth, I emphasize touch keyboarding, use of the Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel and Powerpoint), research skills and graphic skills, where students learn to use Photoshop Elements and Lightroom. Students are exposed to more sophisticated types of coding as well as research skills with respect to the internet. Our district curriculum, Learning.com, has several lessons in these varied areas, and students are able to get feedback on their performance with each lesson. I try to provide meaning contexts for the use of each application. For example, with Excel students track their keyboarding speed and are able to graph it with a line graph. With Lightroom, students learn to touch up photos where bright light creates shadows and obscures faces and other details. When children and teachers document activities on a sunny day outdoors this is a problem they often encounter. On this developmental level, students also have the opportunity to participate in after-school enrichment camps: robotics, coding and multimedia. We have a newscast station in our lab,where students are able to meaningfully apply their skills in presenting a daily newscast which is preceded by a movie made by the students. The movies typically introduce new faculty members, address web safety, school events and many other areas of interest to the community. The production is student driven and reflects it in its character.