Alcuin Stories

Exploring Technology at an Early Age 

The word ‘coding’ may be a buzzword throughout academic programs, but at Alcuin coding is a small piece of the much larger concept we know as digital literacy that starts with our youngest learners. 
It’s a thrill to watch kids as young as seven years old suddenly realize how powerful and far-reaching digital tools can be. Throughout our technology program, we empower students with the knowledge and skills necessary for the mature use of those tools, which are so integral to life in the 21st century. We want them to become well-rounded and digitally literate, while teaching them the fundamentals of computer science and responsible digital citizenship.  
Primary Extended Day  
Introductory skills and critical thinking challenges begin with manipulative coding blocks, appropriate for young students. The coding tool used with these children is Cubetto, which introduces foundational concepts of coding in collaborative settings, irrespective of reading ability and without screens. 
Lower Elementary 
Here digital literacy topics include digital citizenship, computer science fundamentals, coding, robotics, and the use of Alcuin’s digital library resources. These resources such as Britannica Encyclopedia, Britannica Image Quest, World Book Online, Tales2Go, BrainPOP, Gale Databases, Infobase eBooks, Ebooks, Enchanted Learning, and TeachingBooks offer opportunities for reading and research.  

Students get their first look at coding through “unplugged” activities which progress to drag and drop block coding on platforms such as Hour of Code and Scratch. Digital citizenship, computer science fundamentals, coding, and robotics are presented in a three-year, rotating curriculum, using a variety of educational resources, presented in the classroom by the Instructional Technology Specialist.  
Upper Elementary 
Fourth through sixth-level students are given more digital tools but also more responsibilities and expectations of online behavior. Digital tools are integrated into the core academic and fine arts disciplines to enhance engagement and efficiency, especially in mathematics, reading, writing and research. Students are introduced to digital communication tools and use their school email accounts for planning and collaboration through the use of Google Drive and Google Apps. 

With these expanded skills, students begin producing digital products, using a variety of Google and Microsoft applications to create original content related to school assignments and utilize programs such as Type to Learn, Khan Academy, ERB Writing Practice, Ebooks, Read Theory, Microsoft Word, Google Docs, PowerPoint, Google Slides, Gmail, Google Drive, Hour of Code, Scratch, Lego WeDo 2.0, Tinkercad, and Incrediflix. Fourth and fifth-level students work with me in developing communication and presentation skills, as well as participating in the annual Hour of Code, international effort. Sixth-level students step into MYP and IB expectations, including Design, where they participate in a variety of technology-rich projects. 

Overall, in a developmentally appropriate progression, our younger students incorporate the use of technology into their daily school practices. 

These experiences provide opportunities for critical and creative problem solving, preparing students early on for success as consumers and producers of digital content. As they move into Middle and Upper School and the International Baccalaureate program, they are equipped with the skills required to use technology safely, effectively and responsibly, and with confidence. 

Pamela Villanueva, Instructional Technology Specialist