6th and 7th Grade Technology & Tools Class
The weekly 6th and 7th Grade Technology & Tools class teaches students the technical skills they need to be successful in their academic classes. Lessons provide an opportunity for girls to have more time to practice skills they will need before a particular academic unit, increasing their proficiency with repeated exposure. In both years, special attention will be given to teaching girls how to use their school-issued iPads mindfully and appropriately both in a class setting and as they move between school and home digital life. Units from Common Sense Media’s Digital Compass and Digital Literacy and Citizenship curriculum will be interspersed. Girls will also learn to use other tools on campus like the Makerbot 3D Printer and those in the Tinkering Stations.
2017-18 will be JMSG’s fourth year of the 1:1 program. The program was launched after several years of research, data collection, and a technology audit showed the value and necessity of student 1:1 programs. Some of the goals of the program are to break down “the digital divide,” assure each girl has equal access to technology, seamlessly integrate technology into classroom lessons and enrichment activities, and facilitate the teaching and learning of individualized content. Students now have the opportunity to create multimedia in the context of their learning, organize their class work, and excavate data and facts from digital sources. Apps in the classroom allow girls to learn and demonstrate understanding with different modalities whether a video, voice recording, or a digital annotation of a paper journal. In 6th grade, all students undergo an orientation for the responsible use of the device. As girls progress through the grades and receive more training, they gain more freedom in taking home the device and the variety of apps they may use.
Robotics and Technovation Clubs
Both robotics and Technovation are designed to spark excitement about programming and technology. Robotics Club follows the First Lego League curriculum, and Technovation teams are part of a global app coding competition. In robotics, girls work in teams to design, build, and program a robot to maneuver or pick up small Lego obstacles. Their robot must compete against other robots to do the same tasks. In Technovation, girls strategize, design, and code an app. Additionally, they must write a business plan and go through an “ideation” process to prove how they will market and sell their app. In both clubs, girls must collaborate in teams to research a problem in the community that ties into a particular theme, then derive an innovative solution. In both clubs, girls are taught valuable life skills, such as learning to work on a team, competing under pressure, and maintaining good sportswomanship. Furthermore, girls learn they can be successful not only in coding and robotics, but can also have leadership positions in these fields. Several JMSG robotics alumnae have gone on to be the only girls on their “all-boys” high school robotics teams, leading these teams as well.
At Cornerstone, during morning break, or even between classes, you can see girls deconstruct devices, build and use tools, and play at the Tinkering Stations in the front hall. They create with robotics and have the opportunity to become comfortable in roles not necessarily associated with girls. Although learning through play is not a new concept in education, it is an effective learning method that enhances critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Tinkering is responsible for bringing us new technology, prototypes, works of art, breakthroughs in film, and methods of improving what already exists. Spatial awareness, mechanical reasoning, invention, exploration, experimentation, risk-taking, systematic questioning, self-monitoring, self-correction, and creativity are all a part of tinkering. Nothing quite surpasses watching a 6th grader step up to a Tinkering Station before 9:00 a.m., taking that brave leap to see if her idea will turn out the way she hopes.