A Message from the Head of Lower School: November 2019

A Message from the Head of Lower School: November 2019
  • Academics
Karen Leavitt, Head of Lower School

Breaking News! Bernard Zell is now offering a 1:1 Technology Program in all Lower School Grades!

I would like to take this opportunity to share some exciting technology news with all of you. In the coming weeks, we will be upgrading our first and second grade iPad collection! We will now be able to offer the most up-to-date applications and curricular opportunities with the latest iPad models. Our new class sets will include an iPad for each student, giving us the most flexibility. This upgrade will also allow us to shift the existing Chromebook carts into third grade to offer a 1:1 program there as well. This is exciting on many levels, but at the forefront, rich classroom technology experiences will be more seamless and integrated than ever before. 

As you know, it is not just about having access to the devices themselves, but it is the purposeful and streamlined integration of technology that is most important.  So, what is meaningful technology integration? This is technology use that allows:

  • Access to the up-to-date, primary source material
  • Methods of collecting/recording data
  • Ways to collaborate with students, teachers, and experts around the world
  • Opportunities for expressing understanding via multimedia
  • Learning that is relevant and assessment that is authentic
  • Training for publishing and presenting new knowledge

A particularly new and meaningful opportunity involving technology at Bernard Zell is Seesaw, a student-driven digital portfolio tool that empowers students to independently document what they are learning at school. Teachers and students have been exploring and experimenting with this new platform and have begun to create student portfolios. With this engine, students can take pictures, record and explain their thinking, access customized assignments and much more. Additionally, teachers can receive immediate feedback, differentiate instruction, provide high engagement learning and receive authentic assessment. 

This new application allows teachers intimate insight into students’ thought processes and allows students to showcase pride and confidence in their learning. The best part? Student portfolios will soon be available to share with families! This is an effective way for parents to see concrete examples of student work and engage in their child’s learning. Communication remains elevated with ongoing visibility in portfolios that follow your students through their years.  Stay tuned to learn more from your classroom teachers on our exploration of Seesaw!

This is an example of a Seesaw post from a 1st-grader, whose task was to complete the math puzzle and then record how he knew the puzzle was solved properly. In this video, the teacher can hear a student demonstrate an understanding of the 1st-grade learning targets from her math lesson (complements of 10, ten-frame addition, counting-on strategy, and math reasoning).

It is important to acknowledge that schools across the globe are grappling with digital adoption and the tender balance of preparing kids for a tech-rich world, while also placing heavy value in paper and pencil learning. Collaborative learning environments and the critical role that teachers play in facilitating transformative educational experiences for students is also a key component of that balance. It is our commitment that this impressive upgrade will serve as an opportunity for enhanced and extended learning goals while providing an amazing foundation for the future!



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