Technology at the Bank Street School for Children
By Wendy Apfel
Technology finds its home in a unique, ever-shifting space within progressive education. At the School for Children, we envision technology as a tool to support learning and growth, and to help make developmentally appropriate and meaningful connections between teaching and learning and the outside world. One might observe students from the 4/5s capturing video on a Flipcam while on a neighborhood walk, and returning to reflect on their findings in the classroom. In the 10/11s one can observe students interacting with students in China, both classes posting photos of their experiences with various day-to-day activities including food or transportation, viewing each others photos, leaving comments, and replying to questions online. In various classrooms within the Upper School, students are collaborating with their peers online via secure classroom websites and designing their own websites as part of a virtual museum, amongst other projects involving technology. As a leader in progressive education, the School for Children serves as a model for the meaningful use of technology in a progressive school setting. The Bank Street School for Children is committed to thoughtful use of technology and ongoing examination of its impact on learning, individuals, and the community. Technology provides important tools for teaching and learning, and can enable our teachers and students to:
- Support learning as a social, collaborative process
- Solve problems in many different group settings
- Develop a stronger sense of community and social responsibility
- Structure learning around artifacts, stories, historical documents, and shared experiences
- Design experiences which lead children to make discoveries about big ideas
- Replicate and reflect on outside experiences inside the classroom
- Support multiple means of representation, presentation, and expressing student thought
- Support differentiated learning experiences to help students learn in the ways that work best for them
- Tap into the diversity of the world allowing for global connections
As a progressive school, we have an obligation to consistently evaluate and innovate with regard to the role technology plays in the achievement of our learning objectives, in order to best meet our students’ ever evolving needs. Teachers survey their students’ learning needs and work with the technology coordinator to identify and implement technology that best meets students’ needs and enhances curricula. Classrooms are equipped with developmentally appropriate and purposefully implemented technology tools for student and faculty use. We examine and integrate grade level milestones for technology skill development into the curriculum to further 21st century skills and innovative learning environments. We continue to promote the safe and responsible use of technology throughout our entire community.
The School for Children is committed to the thoughtful implementation of new technologies, which connect teaching and learning to the outside world. As we undertake this initiative, it is important to ensure faculty’s exposure to the tools that reflect innovation and the importance of technology in all facets of our society. The school is committed to providing appropriate professional development, training, and support, so teachers are prepared to integrate technologies that will complement and strengthen existing pedagogy. As a school we will ensure that new technologies are adopted in a strategic fashion, with requisite professional development for faculty. We will also provide opportunities for faculty to share and showcase the ways they have creatively used technology in their classrooms, and support collegial collaboration. We will also pursue partnerships with other Independent Schools and organizations for purposes of expanding teacher’s exposure to new technologies.
The technology available today offers unique opportunities to enhance instruction and learning in developmentally appropriate ways, empowering students to be more proactive in the acquisition of knowledge, critical thinking skills, and the development of good judgment. As progressive educators, we are obligated to carefully evaluate new technology, tools, and content before we can take steps to thoughtfully and meaningfully integrate them into the classroom learning experience.