The ASCA library is utilized by the students in grades pre-kindergarten through eight. The library is available for the students in grades five through eight each morning before the start of class. The students in grades kindergarten through four have scheduled library class each week, and they select books to borrow. The pre-kindergarten classes attend story-time in the library in small groups each week.
Computer Technology Curriculum
The computer technology curriculum provides instruction from pre-K to the 8th grade. The majority of instruction takes place in the school’s state-of-the-art computer lab, which is outfitted with 28 networked desktop computers running Windows 7. The computer education curriculum at all levels begins with instruction on how to use the basic and more advanced functions of the operating system, with a focus on academic policies, procedures, and safety.
At the pre-kindergarten level, students are taught the very basics of using a computer. Specifically, students at this level are taught the parts of a computer (screen, monitor, keyboard and mouse). Students practice navigating simple menus in a safe web browsing environment, with a strong focus on improving dexterity, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination (such activities include using the keyboard to type one’s name or a sight word or manipulating the mouse to draw an on-screen picture). Students at this level also receive basic phonics and reading practice through the use of popular websites Starfall.com and OneMoreStory.com.
At the primary (K-2) level, students continue improving fine motor skills and dexterity, and learn how to navigate menus on a web browser and on a variety of educational websites. Some of the websites and software that is used at this level include Tux Paint, Starfall.com, OneMoreStory.com, ABCya.com, UEN.org/k-2interactives, and other websites that enhance whole class or individual instruction. Towards the end of the year, students in 2nd grade begin to explore Microsoft PowerPoint, and create short presentations that allow them to learn simple functions such as saving a file, typing text and formatting font size, colors and type, formatting background colors and designs for slides, selecting and formatting clip art and photos, and presenting a unique slideshow on the interactive whiteboard.
At the elementary (3-5) level, students begin to learn advanced web browsing and online research skills. Students at this level learn and practice the basics of Microsoft Office software PowerPoint and Word. More than simply creating basic slideshows, students practice key skills of summary and synthesis when asked to research a topic and present that information in a slideshow. Students work individually on some projects and collaboratively on others, allowing for wider learning possibilities. Some of the specific computer skills taught at this level include typing, formatting fonts, objects (photos, clip art, textboxes), copying & pasting objects, inserting transitions and animations, spell checking, and researching and citing online sources the proper way (for example, best practices of online academic research recommends students use keywords and accurate search engines as opposed to searching direct questions or overreliance on Wikipedia).
At the intermediate level (6-8), students learn how to use the advanced functions of Microsoft Office software Word, Excel and PowerPoint. In addition, students practice higher-order research skills and critical thinking, both individually and collaboratively. Internet research is a major focus of the curriculum, and students are taught the best practices of online research. Students at this level are required to complete at least 6 major projects throughout the school year and demonstrate a mastery of basic computer skills. A second major focus at this level is exploring the many academic tools available on the internet. (One of these tools, for example, is called Prezi, which is a new ‘zooming’ presentation editor). Students are asked to think critically about evolving technologies and engage in discussion of current events concerning technology and its complex, ever-changing role in society. While social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are prohibited in school, their impact and role in students’ lives are addressed. Students are taught how to be safe online and protect themselves and their identities as citizens of online communities. Cyber-bullying, copyright laws, net neutrality and careers in technology also are topics that are addressed in connected lessons throughout the school year. Above all, students at this level are prepared for future experiences in high school and beyond, and to become responsible users of computer technologies.