The Junior School technology curriculum focuses on design thinking and problem-based learning. Students are encouraged to be content creators rather than consumers. JA-J4 students are introduced to both high and low tech tools and lessons are integrated with the core subjects (language arts, math, social studies, and science) to teach, reinforce, and promote technology skills. Teachers utilize the CoLaboratory and homeroom classes to provide a seamless and integrated understanding of technology and teamwork.
Students are introduced to the CoLaboratory and design thinking. They use iPads for creative work and for presentations. Students are introduced to robotics using WeDo Legorobotics. In their first year, students build robots with motors. Basic programming skills are taught. Students also play a role of a shoe designer where they interview and create a pair of sneakers for a real costumer. Different apps are used to sketch and present their product.
Students learn basic computer competency skills and use technology to solve problems. Resources such as iPads, software programs, the Internet, and digital cameras are used as tools to produce answers to thematic-based questions. For example, students solve a problem using the Design Process where they take pictures of every step that they go through. At the end, they create a presentation on the iPad using an app like SonicPics where they record their voices explaining the whole process. In robotics, J1 continues to work with WeDo Lego robotics. They build and program more complex robots adding sensors.
Students begin to learn about file management techniques and appropriate terminology used when referring to technology issues. Activities integrate technology into the classroom by focusing on positive ways students can express ideas and practice problem-solving techniques using the Design Process. Students follow a 12-week robotics unit where they learn basic programming and mechanical processes. Web-based software such as Scratch, Wordle, Glogster, and various apps on the iPads are also introduced. Responsible, social, ethical, and safe practices are particularly emphasized.
The Design Process is reinforced in J3 where students build mazes and add circuits to their final work. The robotics unit integrates various sensors and data collection for students to create programs that allow the robot to interact with the world around them. J3 students are introduced to basic coding and programming by learning Logo. Students also refine their computer skills by using software such as Pages, Keynote, ComicLife, and Kidspiration. Students learn to move between two or more open programs seamlessly, and independently select appropriate tools to complete assignments in class. Particular emphasis is placed on differentiating between appropriate and inappropriate online behavior.
In Junior Four students are encouraged to use a variety of media to creatively express themselves. Focus is placed on building upon skills from previous years to solve problems and negotiate design issues. For example, in robotics, students create their own mini vibrating bots using coin operated batteries, LEDs and crafting material found in CoLaboratory. While working collaboratively, students understand plagiarism, show respect for the work of others, and identify and define authentic problems and questions for investigation.