"When it comes to technology, our goal is for students to leave GCDS with the knowledge and tools to be successful—to be leaders,” says Tom Hart, director of technology.Country Day's technology curriculum, which begins with hands-on STEAM projects and block-based coding in kindergarten, now extends all the way through ninth grade with the addition of Intro to Computer Science Principles, a year-long course for all seventh graders, and Computer and Mechanical Engineering, a new elective course for eighth and ninth graders.
"You start to think outside the box and start to see how coding fits in everywhere,” says one seventh grader reflecting on her experience in the Intro to Computer Science Principles course. “I like this class because there’s so many opportunities that you get in life from learning to code. I would love to be an engineer or an inventor in some way.”
Advanced Tools for Building and Learning
For our younger students Squishy Circuits, littleBits, and Makey Makey make creative engineering projects fun, while our older students work with a range of advanced computer-controlled tools—including a Shopbot, which can carve and shape wood and metal; a laser cutter, which can cut and engrave a wide range of materials; a 3-D printer; as well as a drill, sanding machine, band saw, and soldering machine.
STEAM + Fun
In addition to STEAM projects in the classroom, activities and events such as the annual third grade STEAM Night help foster our students' enthusiasm for imaginative building and creating.
Coding Club and Robotics Clubs
The Coding Club and Robotics Clubs are popular options for students interested in additional opportunities to expand their knowledge and work together.
At GCDS, technology is a key tool for learning. As an integrated part of the classroom experience, technology such as iPads, laptops, Smartboards, Google apps, and other curated educational apps and websites, enhance the learning experience by making it easier to research, collaborate, analyze information, share feedback, receive guidance from teachers, and present ideas. Above all, it gives students new ways to be creative.
Upper School 1:1 Laptop Program
GCDS was among the first schools to introduce a 1:1 laptop program more than 18 years ago. Today, this tool remains an integral part of how students learn—facilitating collaboration, note taking, research, writing, and digital textbooks in the Middle and Upper School.
Computers and iPads
Throughout the school, digital and analog tools blend seamlessly, preparing students to be adept at both. It is common to see a class where half of students are researching on iPads or laptops while the other half reads books—and then to see them switch.
In the classroom, iPads extend what is possible, whether students are researching explorers, narrating their own movie, illustrating how to solve a math problem, or photographing objects at an archeological dig.
Starting in kindergarten, all Lower School classrooms have computers, and the Middle and Upper School has a 1:1 laptop program. The use of Google apps for education and the Hapara teacher dashboard enable students to easily collaborate, create presentations, make their own websites, and receive teacher feedback on their work.
Smartboards are used in every classroom from kindergarten to grade 12, and a portable Smartboard is shared by nursery and pre-kindergarten. These interactive whiteboards make it easier to share presentations, save class notes, and bring the world into the classroom through watching a video or talking with an outside expert such as an author via Skype.
In addition to helping students become adept at using technology for information gathering and problem solving, our teachers aim to instill an understanding of what it means to be a good digital citizen. Today, one of the many facets of building character is helping students understand how to be safe, honest, and kind online and when using digital technology.