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Tech Integration: student use of technology in the curriculum
At Oracle Charter School, we offer a host of technology-based classes, like Computer Essentials, where students learn how to use valuable web tools such as Google Docs and Glogster, social media like Edmodo, or brush up on their typing skills.
But the real excitement of what’s happening at Oracle goes beyond just teaching them these basics. In fact, you could say that our students have taken charge of their own curriculum with technology.
They’re doing it using several different types of technologies, from Windows-based computers and iMacs, to mobile hand-held devices. They’re experimenting with what can be done with each type of device – and supporting both their classmates and teachers in integrating these technologies into our curriculum.
Take, for instance, students in Mr. Meister’s Digital Media class. They are currently guiding students in Mr. Basil’s Social Studies classes in a project to incorporate protest posters and messages into a video production using relevant online footage and a green screen. Ultimately, the Digital Media Group will act as a production studio for content driven by other areas.
The Digital Media Group also produces a daily news show, called OCast, using iMovie and the school’s Mac lab. Different students take charge of producing news, as well as in-depth segments on sports, music, and video biographies of people of interest to the students. The students experiment with new presentation and video techniques for each OCast.
The Nerd Herd “Alpha” group is just another example of how Oracle empowers students through technology. The group is an elite team that works with Mr. McKee, Oracle’s technology coordinator, to perform basic troubleshooting and maintenance work on Oracle’s computers. They worked all summer to prepare the school’s computers and other electronics to be ready for the school year and act as a help desk for most of the equipment in the building. You might find them drilling holes to run wires, or in the Head of School’s office troubleshooting a printing problem. The Nerd Herd is also extending their services to local non-profit organizations that can’t afford the cost of a day-to-day technology staff.
In addition, mobile carts of Androids are being maintained and programmed by DROID Club students, self-designated as The Nerd Herd “Beta” group. These DROID Club students act as a help desk for teachers and classmates less familiar with the equipment. The club has also created Regent’s reviews for classmates to use, as well as downloaded eBooks to the Droids. The audio capabilities of the equipment are even being taken advantage of by the Special Education students and in the Spanish classrooms. And in the afternoons, Mr. Capitumino’s room turns into a “techie workshop” where DROID Club students look for new ways to utilize the equipment.
Meanwhile, Mr. Schroeder’s AP History class is being taught almost exclusively using Samsung Galaxy tablets. Mr. Capitumino’s Spanish class students also use tablets during class to log into their Google accounts and communicate with each other and their teachers, turn in assignments, participate in online workshops, and explore the resources of the Internet. Useful “apps” are tested out and shared, as well.
Oracle’s two PC labs are always in full use with students in seminar classes looking up information on colleges, filling out applications, and writing essays using Google Docs. Likewise, students in Oracle’s English classes use Prezi, an online presentation tool, to map out and write essays.
Students at Oracle Charter School move effortlessly between equipment and technologies, enhancing their computer skills and gaining confidence with real-world use of the equipment. The experimentation that students engage in provides student-initiated learning that education experts complain is missing from today’s test-driven curriculum, and the student’s use of technology reinforces their learning in core subjects.
The fact that Oracle students are partners in the school’s technology program – and are using technology in authentic ways – makes them confident and capable of succeeding in today’s society and tomorrow’s careers.