Technology with St. Mary’s youngest girls is much more than a laptop or an iPad. Beginning in Pre Kindergarten, our girls learn that technology is really any tool that we use. As the PreK girls study buildings they will use the SmartBoard, digital cameras, and laptops, but you will also see them with hammers, screwdrivers, and measuring tapes. You’ll see the Junior Kindergarten girls reading online stories and using math ten frames on iPads, but you’ll also see them taking apart an old printer to see how it works. In Senior Kindergarten they’re sorting syllables on the SmartBoard and listening for rhyming words on the iPads, but you will also see them using traditional kitchen tools to prepare their Thanksgiving feast.
Technology in the Early Childhood Center is integrated into the daily curriculum right along side its STEM counterparts; Science, Engineering, and Math. While you would expect to see a classroom study of insects and girls measuring and counting, the study of engineering takes a front row seat among the traditional academic areas. St. Mary’s girls are encouraged to be innovators and to find out how things work. Our teachers facilitate opportunities for the girls to make connections and solve problems. Emphasis is placed on the process and design, not just the finished product. Design a house for a mouse? Build an airport terminal with a playground? Create a multi-tasking, cleaning tool to get Cinderella to the ball faster? Creativity and inventiveness pair with a sense of sustainability as the girls use a variety of recycled materials for their projects. Everyone is a star as we use digital camcorders and iPads to record and share what we have learned.
Exposure to the authentic use of technology occurs constantly in the Early Childhood Center. Our little girls see their teachers communicating via email, Twitter, and websites. They can’t wait to send a story or picture of a project to their parents. A seashell, a fingerprint, or a handwriting lesson takes on new life on the “big screen” with a document camera and a projector. Ready for the “clean up” song, just grab an iPod and plug it into the speakers. Need to get a lunch count, just move your name on the SmartBoard to “buying” or “bringing.” Each classroom has ready access to laptops, iPods, iPads, document cameras, digital cameras, and interactive white boards to support their curriculum. Classroom teachers are supported by the Early Childhood Coordinator of Technology and Curriculum Development as they intentionally integrate the use of technology into their environment.
As we endeavor to educate these young, digital natives for occupations that may not even exist at this time, we prioritize the skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. Because no matter what the latest tech gadget or device will be, these are the skills that will enable them to achieve their greatest potential.