At CAIS, technology is used as a tool to enhance student learning, and technology skills are integrated and developed within the framework of the curriculum. Teachers work with educational technology coordinators - one focused on the English program and one on the Chinese program — to design projects that leverage key technological tools and methodologies. In this way, we are striving to ensure that our students build the skills they need to be prepared for the challenges of work and life in the 21st century.
Starting in Kindergarten, students learn basic iPad navigation and skills such as how they can use technology to write and draw like they do on paper. In first and second grade, students learn keyboarding and Chinese pinyin Romanization typing on the iPad. Students also learn basic operating system navigation skills and word processing tools. In order to develop English keyboarding skills, starting in third grade students use an online course called Typequick that is accessible both from school and home so that they may practice on a regular basis. In fourth grade students are introduced to Google Docs and are given a CAIS email account, which allows them to navigate through Google applications, email teachers and work collaboratively on Google Docs. In fifth grade students continue their applied skills in keyboarding and build upon their word processing and presentation tools.
Beginning in the 2015-2016 school year students in third, fourth and fifth grades have a weekly, 50-minute coding class. Increasingly we as educators recognize the importance of not just teaching our students to use technology but also learn how it works and how to create it. The curriculum of this new course consists primarily of coding and also includes some making and design thinking.
In the middle school, we have a 1:1 iPad program. Students use their iPads regularly in class and at home for completing homework, writing papers, holding textbooks, taking photos, communicating with teachers and classmates, doing research and keeping track of assignments. Technology, research and information literacy skills are taught through projects that are woven into the regular curriculum.
In addition, in 6th, 7th and 8th grades we have a technology class where students learn about specialized technology topics such as programming, stop motion animation, design thinking, circuitry, physical computing, and robotics. These classes take place in our newly built Phanachet Design Lab at the 888 Campus. The Phanachet Design Lab is a physical and programmatic hub for project-based learning in STEAM fields. Our Design Lab Director works with faculty and division heads to integrate making and design thinking into the CAIS curriculum.
We take seriously our obligation to educate our students as responsible digital citizens. To that end, we have implemented a formal digital literacy and citizenship curriculum provided by Common Sense Media that spans Kindergarten through eighth grade. The curriculum addresses digital literacy and citizenship in age appropriate ways through a framework of subject areas that includes what information is safe or not safe to share online, how to use technology to communicate responsibly and respectfully and how to use technology responsibly for research and collaboration.
We set high standards for ethical and responsible use of technology and seek to teach students to meet those standards.