Lower School technology courses focus on introducing and developing emerging computing skills, including keyboarding, digital storytelling, conceptual programming, search and online research strategies, media literacy, ethical online behavior, and digital communication and collaboration skills.
Nueva begins formal technology courses in second grade to allow lower grades to focus on SEL skill building and practice and develop core skills (reading, writing, math, and science). Beginning in second grade, students are introduced to computers as a tool to enhance productivity and creation.
Students in grades 2–4 and their parents must sign a laptop-usage agreement before students can use laptops in class. Each grade has a dedicated laptop cart, as well as a dedicated laptop cart for specialists. Third-grade students receive a school email address after several lessons on safety, etiquette, and ethical and proper use.
Homework and Assessment
Homework in computer class is minimal, though some students in the past have chosen to continue projects they began in class at home or during free time, and an occasional assignment may need to be completed at home. Students are assessed for the creativity and responsibility with which they make use of the computer skills they learned in each project, their readiness to challenge themselves and improve their knowledge of the topics we are studying, and their overall attitude and contribution to the learning environment in the classroom.
Here is more information about the Nueva School's technology program.
In second grade, teachers present technology as a tool and as an outlet for personal creativity, innovation, and learning. In the class, which meets for one hour per week in the Media Lab, projects are selected to provide positive experiences while bringing greater depth to students' knowledge of basic skills. Some skills covered include keyboarding and basic word processing, learning about accessory devices like printers, cameras, and scanners, and discovering how to navigate and interpret sources of information (such as pages in a Web browser).
Students create original poems and illustrations using the multimedia program KidPix, learn how to make frame-by-frame animations, and begin practicing keyboarding skills. They also learn how to use the hyperlinking multimedia program Hyperstudio and create an interactive "stack" with navigation buttons containing information about their interests and hobbies.
Students also use digital cameras, iPhoto, and the program Comic Life to create how-to guides and interviews with fairytale characters. Scratch is also introduced in second grade. Students create animations of their names and learn about computational concepts such as variables, conditionals, and iteration.
The third-grade class aims to prepare students for extensive use of computers as academic and communication tools. The curriculum also acquaints them with patterns of procedural thinking necessary for more advanced work. Skills emphasized include keyboarding, email, Internet safety and ethics, research, organization, word processing, and the creation of communications for audiences other than oneself.
Third graders create frame-by-frame animations with Animation-ish and post their files as QuickTime movies to the class blog. Using Google Earth, students work in pairs to find the coordinates of Nueva and Bay Area landmarks, measure distances, and, given only latitude and longitude, locate "mystery" landmarks around the globe. Students learn how to do Internet research to find information on a subject of their choice for the I Admire project. Skills covered include learning how to cite sources and how to paraphrase their findings.
Next, students use Pages to layout their I Admire posters and upload them to the class blog. Third graders create interactive animations in Scratch and continue to learn about computational concepts such as variables, conditionals, and iteration.
Fourth graders foster the synthesis of information through digital means. Students use technology to connect with the outside world, collaborate with each other, sort and document their discoveries, and create presentations based on their research.
Organizational skills, typing, and critical thinking are continued at a higher level in this course. Topics include basic networking concepts, saving to central servers, file management, using email, blogs, and wikis to collaborate and communicate, and learning about and practicing Internet safety and ethics.
Students use the program Animation-ish to animate scenes from Greek mythology stories they are studying in the fourth-grade classroom. They create prototypes, receive online feedback from peers, and incorporate feedback into a final version, which they post to the class blog in the QuickTime video format.
Students also learn how to use the brainstorming/mind-mapping software Kidspiration to organize their knowledge about Greek mythology. They create family trees that illustrate relationships among figures from Greek mythology, save their files as PDFs, and post them to the class blog.