At Linden, we know that girls learn best when they are actively engaged within an inquiry-based classroom model, which allows for hands-on learning and the ability to draw connections within the context of their own world. Given our rapidly evolving digital culture, where students interact with the digital world more than ever, it’s important to ensure that our pedagogical approach remains relevant and effective. Our students are already using digital media to research, learn, and communicate, whether it’s through Google, video or photo editing software, or social sharing tools such as Instagram, tumblr, and other platforms. By enabling students to become digital creators, participants, and doers, students can link their social interests and digital learning to academic achievement, which is a truly powerful way to ensure engaged learning.
As part of our move from STEM to STEAM, we place equal emphasis on developing three essential skills: critical, creative, and communication skills, which are fundamental to a student’s ability to design and problem solve solutions. It’s now increasingly important to extend this approach to cultivating new 21st century skills through which our students can share ideas, pose interesting questions, design presentations, produce new solutions and prototypes, and communicate in dynamic ways.
One of the new literacies of the 21st century is computational thinking — the ability to break a problem down to constituent parts to generate algorithmic solutions. We teach computational thinking as early as Kindergarten, when students begin to learn computer programming through a variety of educational resources such as Kodu, Scratch, and CodeMonkey. In later grades, Python, Turtle, and Pygame are used to introduce students to a professional coding language in an accessible way. All of these digital resources are organized and made easily accessible through Google Classroom, a centralized online classroom resource moderated by our computer science teacher.
During the past few years, an increasing number of Linden teachers have been using Google Classroom, and we continue to explore its use this year. This is just the beginning of our consideration of how to best leverage digital technology for teaching purposes. Google Classroom allows us to continue using our approach to active learning in new ways, by both extending and “flipping” the classroom. In a flipped classroom students are assigned tasks such as watching a video, reading, or researching a topic beforehand, while active learning with the teacher happens during class time. This approach helps faculty focus class time on group activities designed to promote a better understanding of the material. For students who do not have computer or Internet access at home, Linden provides ample opportunity for them to use the school’s computer lab before, during, or after school.
We will continue assessing our use of Google Classroom and looking at other digital tools to assess their suitability going forward. We will also be sharing more examples of how Linden is using digital pedagogy in the coming months.