Information and Communication Technology
Each classroom is equipped with a Teacher laptop, an interactive whiteboard and data projector, and many classrooms have five thin client computer work stations. The media centre has a work station of 12 computers used by girls in the Foundation phase for reading during the morning, and by the Senior Primary girls for research and enrichment purposes after school. St Mary’s has a fully wireless campus, so all classes can access the school network and the Internet. We have a computer room with 30 computers, where the girls are taught computer literacy skills.
All girls from Grade 0 to Grade 7 have an hour’s lesson in the computer room each week with a specialist teacher. They are encouraged to express their creativity while learning and consolidating new skills.
In Grades 0, 1 and 2, the emphasis in ICT is on hand-eye co-ordination and basic computer skills. The girls use various drawing tools and they select and move objects. They match pictures, group objects together and, as they learn to read and write, they work more with text. They use Paint and Granada Colours to learn these skills. In the second term of Grade 2 we aim to integrate IT lessons more with what they are learning in class. They learn how to use a web-based program called Purple Mash, and work in groups to make a simple movie.
In Grade 3 we use a program called Granada Writer and the girls learn the basics of word processing and how to manipulate pictures. In the third term the Grade 3s are introduced to the Internet.
From Grades 4 to 7, the girls work in Microsoft Office – Word, PowerPoint and Excel. By the time they leave Grade 7 they are computer literate. They have a good working knowledge of word processing, creating presentations and using simple spreadsheets.
In Grades 4 to 7 we use the Internet extensively, and the girls are taught to use the Internet effectively and responsibly. Grade 6 and 7 girls are given school email addresses.
There are two mobile iPad classrooms in use in the Junior School, one for use by the Foundation phase and the other for the Senior Primary phase. In the Foundation Phase the girls use the iPads to consolidate spelling rules and maths concepts. The iPads are used creatively to make their own storybooks, collages and movies. The girls are introduced to various iPad apps in their ICT lessons. They learn the basics of how to use these apps so that they can apply them, when needed, across the curriculum.
The Junior School is fortunate to have an interactive whiteboard installed in each classroom. At a very basic level, it can be used as a projection screen. Teachers can show the girls PowerPoint presentations or DVDs and they can access the internet.
Using a stylus, teachers and pupils can write on the board and move words and objects around. The Mathematics teachers find the boards invaluable. The software provides many useful tools – grids, rulers and protractors, to name a few.
The children can take on a teacher role. They become very involved and gain confidence. Many girls who would never volunteer to try to solve a problem in front of the class will willingly jump up to try on the interactive whiteboard. Mistakes can be easily deleted, or it is easy to simply start a clean “page”. Everything written on the board can be saved for further discussion, or simply deleted.
The whiteboard’s software provides many resources for the teachers.
The girls are introduced to coding using Bee Bots. This gives the younger girls the opportunity to orientate themselves to this concept using concrete apparatus.
They then progress to “block coding”, using a variety of iPad apps. These apps give them the opportunity to create games with characters, music, movement and scenes. Through using the apps they learn all the required language for creating commands.