Technology is one of many tools teachers use to help students grasp and retain information. Maret’s integration of technology in every subject is thoughtful and deliberate. Our faculty drives the technology program, keeping the focus on class content.
Technology education at Maret enhances the core curriculum through the effective and efficient use of computers, applications, and other resources. By focusing on coding, digital citizenship, design thinking, and making, Maret students learn to harness the power of technology gaining important life skills, creative problem-solving, and novel approaches to innovation.
The Technology Department supports the development of technological literacy through the integration of projects into our core curriculum. Developing design and critical-thinking skills is a key tenet of our program with an emphasis on problem-solving and creating innovative solutions. Learning is enhanced by teaching students how to effectively use technology in their courses. From hands-on activities to complex coding programs, our students have the opportunity to learn how to interact with and manage their world.
LOWER SCHOOL technology education focuses on discovery and exploration including the very basic tenets of computer coding.
MIDDLE SCHOOL students investigate the myriad ways in which technology enhances learning, including the fundamentals of computer programming.
UPPER SCHOOL sparks our students' imaginative approach to problem solving by encouraging boundary-pushing technological creativity.
With technology immersed throughout Maret’s curriculum, students are bringing their own iPads, Kindles, laptops, and other devices to class, to better access academic materials. Maret has a requisite Bring Your Own Device Program (BYOD) for upper school students to ensure that every high school student has equal access to technology that strengthens classroom experiences. Financial assistance will be available to families who need help in covering the cost of devices.
WHY TEACH PROGRAMMING?
Programming is the process of writing code to make a computer execute a series of commands. The tasks a program can accomplish range from something as simple as adding two numbers to something as complex as managing data flow over a network. Learning basic coding techniques can solidify computational thinking skills — as well as all-important critical thinking abilities. Having a basic understanding of how programs function and how data storage are structured will be incredibly important for our students in the world they will live in as adults, no matter what career they choose.
Teaching programming can be divided into two key studies: syntax and algorithm. Syntax encompasses learning the specific rules and structure of a particular programming language. This is like learning the grammar of a language. Just as English differs from French in both vocabulary and grammatical structures, Java differs from Python in terms of which commands are valid and how they are understood by the computer.
Algorithms are the foundation and logic for all syntax. Commonly referred to as problem-solving, algorithmic thinking is the process to derive the solution that the syntax creates. In order to write a program that works efficiently, a student learns to approach problems in a structured way. Because the algorithm has to anticipate and accommodate any possible ways that a program may be used, students are forced to step back from specific problems and think about the general process or concept being studied. Once they have developed an algorithm, students must ‘think like a computer’ by breaking tasks into discrete, unambiguous, and specific steps, then translating those steps into code. The process of transforming a general, abstract algorithm into a detailed and concrete code requires problem-solving and analytical thinking.One aspect of coding at Maret is its emphasis on collaboration. Students working together is an ideal way for them to learn both syntax and structure, as they try different codes and discuss the results. A programming assignment at Maret assesses a student’s ability to frame an abstract question and it provides an inherently structured and interactive way to present the solution. In this way, we believe that teaching programming as a way to implement mathematical and computer science concepts advances many of the essential skills necessary vital to our global society.
MakerSpace is a creative cauldron for computer education. Here students let their imaginations, technical skills, and problem-solving abilities soar. 3D printers, vinyl cutters, laser cutters, soldering equipment, LittleBits electronics, Tesla electronics kit, Spheros, a Raspberry Pi programmable computer, Makey-Makey, Kibos, Cubetto, and various other tools and materials are catalysts for tackling challenges with out-of-the-box thinking. MakerSpace is also well suited for the small group discussions and projects that are the cornerstone of Maret’s curriculum in every department.
The pace with which new, game changing, education-altering technology enters the market doesn’t faze Maret’s faculty. Two Instructional Technologists support teachers as they work to integrate technology into their curricula, helping them acquire the aptitude they need to incorporate the latest apps that benefit students. Regular after-school technology training sessions for teachers are voluntary, but well attended.
Large-scale conferences and 15-minute Lunchtime Lightning sessions focus on technology topics and questions raised by teachers. The School’s technology staff also oversees a 9-month mentoring program, pairing a knowledgeable and skilled staff member skill with a colleague who wants to become more proficient in a specific area. These teams meet once a month over the course of the school year, but can address pressing questions as they arise.
In a dedicated weekly computer period, the math and science teacher introduces graphing skills and a programming language. In the second semester, students learn how to research online and graph and analyze data as an aid in the presentation of science fair projects. Fifth graders participate in a variety of Internet projects looking at inventions, invertebrates, probability, and other searches linked to their math/science studies. Students are introduced to their first programming language, Logo, through Microworld’s Project Builder, and they produce designs incorporating symmetry, proportion, and geometric shapes. Throughout the course of the year, they also use PowerPoint, Inspiration, Geosketchpad, and Math Arena. In keyboarding class, students practice their typing skills, striving to achieve or surpass the goal of 25 words-per-minute with greater than 90 percent accuracy.
In this course, taught by the technology education teacher, sixth graders develop computer skills that enable them to be more productive and that enhance their work. They learn word processing, computer graphics, layout, video editing, animation, and Internet research. The class also focuses on computer ethics and appropriate use of technology; students take part in monthly discussions on topics ranging from cyber-bullying to copyright laws.
Meeting once a week and coordinated by a dedicated technology teacher, this course first reviews issues of cyber-ethics, keyboarding, and word processing skills. Students then embark on a collection of projects that touch on nearly all of their academic subjects. Throughout the year, seventh graders integrate technology with their academic curriculum as they focus on learning skills such as layout, video editing, animation, music creation, graphic design, and podcasting.
Students dive deeper into computer science and program design. Students are assigned multiple projects which require HTML and other coding languages. Students complete an original movie project that incorporates several pieces of software and technological equipment and requires ongoing collaboration. The movies are presented at a middle school assembly.
ELECTIVE: All courses are one credit
- Programming and Design Fundamentals
- Computer Science and Programming in Java
- Advanced Computer Programming (MSON)
- Computer Graphics, Game Design and Animation (MSON)
- App Design (MSON)
- Independent Study: Special Topics in Computer Science
The purpose of technology education is to teach students the academic use of computers to improve writing and research skills, to develop and reinforce programming aptitude, and to express creativity. The Technology Department offers courses in programming languages from introductory to advanced levels. Additionally the department supports the development of computer skills necessary for other department courses.
A computer literate Maret student achieves competence in word processing, spreadsheet calculations, multimedia, web-based research, and presentation software. The emphasis on teaching programming languages exposes interested students to computer science. Students come to understand a computer’s strengths and limitations and, at the same time, learn the computer skills they will need at college and beyond.
A fully-equipped laboratory with twenty computers is open for academic use from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Computers are also available in the library, science lab and many other locations around campus. There is a campus-wide wireless network enabling access from any wireless-capable device, as well as several laptop and tablet carts supporting computer use in the classroom. Each student receives a Maret email account, which is accessible from anywhere through the Internet. Extracurricular use of computers include publications of the newspaper, yearbook, Literary and Visual Arts Magazine, and projects of the Engineering Team.