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Educators at Rio Grande School work to use technology effectively in classrooms to help students take ownership of their own learning and develop critical thinking skills. Combined with best educational practices, technology allow educators to provide students with a variety of learning experiences that can be suited to their individual learning styles.

As educators become more familiar with the technology tools in their classroom the amount of differentiation that occurs using technology as a tool to meet students individual learning styles increases. This is a necessary phase of our technology program as we try and meet the goal of our strategic plan to reach all learners through greater differentiation. iPads are the most commonly used device that Rio Grande educators are employing to meet students distinct needs. Apps are downloaded by educators on the iPads for students’ independent skills practice in math, phonics, and letter recognition. Graphic organizers loaded on the iPads and the dictionary help students access knowledge and academic content. Specific academic games are encouraged for students to offer more practice of their skills.

Apple iPads have a prominent role in the school. All educators are issued an iPad and our school has a 1:1 iPad program in grades 4-6. There are classroom sets (5-7 ipads each) in Early Childhood (Pequenos and Grandes) and lower cluster (K-3) classrooms.

All classrooms, the library, and computer lab are equipped with an LCD projector, Apple TV, external speakers, and a networked laserjet printer. Networked Xerox All-in-One devices (copy/print/scan) are located in the Faculty Work Room, Library, and Early Childhood building. The computer lab consists of 20 Macbook Air laptops. Educators are provided both a Macbook Air and Apple iPad for administrative use and to facilitate integration of technology into the curriculum.  

The Internet is used by educators for research, for websites such as BrainPop and BrainPop Junior and to stream educational videos. Students use the Internet for research and to practice skills independently on websites like Manga High and Khan Academy. Teachers also incorporate lots of digital photography into lessons. They photograph projects and videotape activities such as singing, acting, or reciting poems to share with parents or at all-school morning meeting.
Educators use the Elmo, Notebook software, and Powerpoint slideshows to present information to students using the interactive projectors. The Notebook software and the interactive pens are also used for interactive activities where students manipulate projected words and objects and play games. The Elmo Student response system clickers are used in the second grade for informal assessments. In fifth and sixth grade math, students use their iPads for clicker assessments. In addition, iPads and iPod shuffles are used as listening centers for audiobooks in the early grades.

iPads are used in a variety of ways throughout the grade levels.  They are used for independent skills practice as well as for visual exploration of concepts. Some apps are also used to support student research.  Students in the upper grades use Keynote for multimedia presentations, Inspiration for concept maps, Comic Life for book chapter summaries, and Pages for writing and taking notes.  They also use the iPads for taking photographs and creating videos.

Specific software is used in certain classes. For example: LibraryWorld software is used in the library to check out library materials and to search for books. Students in the early grades also access online digitized books (One More Story, Between the Lions, and Storytime Online) in the lab. In the Performing Arts, the educator videotapes students performing music and encourage students to critique their own work. Performing Arts educators also use MusicAce software to teach elements of music on the computer and use the projector to view custom-made audio books that teach children how to read using music.

Rio Grande School’s Family Handbook outlines appropriate uses of technology on campus for all students in the Responsible Use Policy section of the handbook. Parents are asked to acknowledge that they have read the handbook, by returning a signed form. In fourth through sixth grade, prior to students receiving individual iPads and before the students are allowed to take the iPads home, a Technology Responsible Use Agreement is signed by both parents and students. The purpose of the agreement is to ensure students and parents are familiar with the standards of conduct and care of the technology device. Although there is currently no formal educational program for students, they receive training on appropriate usage and care for the iPads from core educators and the technology coordinator who incorporates tips, lessons, and conversations throughout the year during the students’ classroom, lab, and morning meeting times.

Through the use of technology, students learn in an environment which fosters creative problem-solving, collaboration, and communication. Our school's ability to offer technology access to our students enables the school to uphold its mission of providing a challenging academic environment and supports many of schools core values.