To say that The Churchill School utilizes a lot of technology would be a bit of an understatement. Most of our OneChurchill community is likely aware of the one-to-one laptop and iPad programs throughout the school, but don’t know exactly what those programs entail or the extent of our technology program. So allow me to provide you with a snapshot of what technology looks like at Churchill.
One of the main driving forces of technology use at Churchill, is assistive technology. As defined by the Assistive Technology Industry Association, “Assistive technology (AT) is any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities.” What that means for Churchill students is that they are provided with computing hardware (laptop or iPad) and a variety of computer applications to assist them in their studies. We use programs like Snap & Read for text-to-speech, hardware like the iPad for speech-to-text, Co:Writer for predictive text, Quizlet for executive function skills, and Learning Ally and Bookshare for audiobooks, just to name a few. We have even installed a font on students computers called Open Dyslexic, that is specifically designed to make it easier for those with dyslexia to read. By providing students with these tools, we can help them focus on learning, rather than being slowed down by the challenges they face.
When we encounter a situation when a particular student’s needs aren’t addressed by hardware or software we currently use, our Technology Integration team works with that particular student to find a solution to overcome the issues they are facing. In addition to working with students, our team develops and provides professional development to our faculty, so our teachers can help support students in our assistive technology efforts.
Our integration team also develops and implements our computer science curriculum, which includes technology classes at all three school levels. We teach students how to code, about the history of computers, web design, and how to be responsible digital citizens. In addition, students have classes in our Makerspace, where they get to learn about 3D printing, electronics, engineering, robotics, virtual reality, and many other topics.
The experiential learning provided by our maker program has had a tremendous impact on our students. We focus on concepts like design thinking, collaboration, and critical thinking, which they are able to apply to the rest of their studies. The program is so popular with our students, that its growth has outpaced the physical space of our current Makerspace. We’re hoping that future improvements to our facilities will help expand the program and add additional opportunities for hands-on learning for our students.
While having all of this technology is great, it wouldn’t function properly without a strong infrastructure, which is managed by our Information Technology staff. We provide tech support to over 560 people and manage over 360 iPads, 350 laptops, 25 servers, 55 SMART boards, 140 phones, 50 wireless access points, a high performance network switching infrastructure, and somehow still find time to fix those pesky printer jams! Ever notice how professional our performances look? That’s our IT staff again, programming and running the lights, mixing the audio, and coordinating with our performing arts department.
Providing a robust computer network and technical support allows our teachers to focus on the student learning and lets them utilize multimedia and online resources to make their lessons more engaging. On the topic of our faculty, we are fortunate to have a group of teachers who are so tech-savvy and willing to leverage technology in their instruction. Our partnership with them is a key component in the success of our technology initiatives.
To sum it all up, technology plays a very important role in helping our students learn. Through the efforts of our technology staff, our collaboration with the faculty, and all of the resources we provide, we aim utilize technology to create an environment where students are engaged, enthusiastic about learning, and able to maximize their potential.
Director of Technology