During the month of August NIST has distributed nearly 800 new MacBook Airs to students as we refreshed our MacBooks. The new machines are smaller yet have great battery life. We hope the students enjoy the enhanced display, audio, and TouchID security. More important than new machines is the reason that we use them. NIST teachers and students use technology as a tool to enhance and deepen their learning. We wanted to take this opportunity to remind our community of this vision. We feel that it is also a great time to point to a few resources which we have to help parents understand more about our laptop provision. Click this link to view Devices for Learning – Frequently Asked Questions.
We started the 2018-2019 school year with some beliefs about how we will use data (or evidence) to enhance student learning. A few key beliefs were that:
- learning is deepened when educators and learners act responsively to a variety of evidence,
- in using agreed, school-wide protocols and processes to collect, analyze, take action, and reflect, and
- teachers and students should be empowered to engage meaningfully with evidence.
To help make progress in this area, a voluntary Evidence-based Learning Committee was formed (click to see the members) which met a number of times and collaborated with many teams around the school using a new, school-wide protocol for looking at evidence objectively to decide upon next actions. The committee also developed some goals and action steps towards these goals for the 2019-2020 school year.
- Trial a clear evidence-based framework, that students, teachers & leadership use for learning and decision making processes.
- For teachers and students to use and interpret data from formative assessment to evaluate learning objectively and inform the next steps of learning.
- To understand and support students (learning and wellbeing), we will utilize structures and processes (e.g. the Evidence to Action protocol) to make informed decisions.
- Developing a shared culture of evidence-based conversations.
The committee is very much looking forward to making even more progress next year.
Year Five students are involved in a “How the World Works” unit where the central idea was “Exploration and innovation in robotics is changing society and the environment.” Students are inquiring along these lines: exploring and investigating robotics, impact of robotics on society and the environment, and creativity and innovation in robotics.
One theme we see in student thinking is how robotic innovation can solve problems. One of the tasks of the unit is to have students design something to solve a problem. They do this by prototyping with physical materials together with SAM Labs wireless electronic ‘blocks’ such as buttons, light sensors, motors, and LED lights. Solutions involve inputs, processing, and outputs. This is one of the fundamental parts of computational thinking. Students are also learning problem-solving by decomposing big problems into smaller parts in order to create a solution for each of the parts. They also find that iteration helps to reach a solution and that it is best to change only one thing at a time to see the effect.