This year at PS 96, our community school in East Harlem, we have a whole new curriculum that has elementary schoolers excited about technology. We are partnering with teachers in classrooms, getting laptops into the hands of our youth and introducing them to other fancy equipment at least once a week. So far, the students have been able to learn a little bit about how computers work, and have used them to create several cool projects such as logos, profiles, and slideshows.
All of the students at PS 96 are provided with school email addresses through Gmail. This gives them access to all of Google’s services across the Google Suite. By now, all 3rd and 4th graders know how to send, reply to, and forward emails using Gmail. They also know how to create and share documents using Google Drive for purposes of collaboration.
All students have each created a profile that only they can edit. They are each shared in the class folder which means each classroom has its own online community. We plan on expanding on this community much more by compiling their work and giving them the options to give feedback through Google Drive.
Overall, these “tech residencies” are mainly about giving the students the necessary skills to navigate this changing world and equipping them to feel confident in all that they pursue. It is also about building excitement and curiosity about technology so that the students go out and learn more on their own. With these skills they will be able to search the internet safely and also to be content creators, exploring important issues and educating their peers.
The first module was about building basic computer and internet skills. The students got familiar with keyboard shortcuts, customizing text, and they learned new vocabulary. We also used pencilmadness.com to create logos which helped to build the students’ motor skills with the mouse. The students now have the skills they need to create documents from scratch as well as edit and share.
The next module is about digital citizenship. The students will learn about building an identity online, and understand what information is okay to share and how to be safe online. PS 96 is also equipped with 3D printers so we plan on ending the next module by building a 3D model of the internet. This will give students an opportunity to explore technology far beyond computers.
Outside of the tech residencies, we have created Global Tech Music, an afterschool workshop that bridges technology and music. Students are using computer software to create beats and record songs right in the classroom. The songs are about global topics such as immigration, and there are a few where students got to express some their own personal struggles. This workshop will also give students the opportunity to use the internet to promote their music, and to curate an event. We would like to have the students in the workshop put on their own hip hop event complete with performances and a cypher.
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