Students use technology resources to conduct research, demonstrate creative and critical thinking, and communicate and work collaboratively.
When students enter Rockhurst High School in the morning, the first place they pass is the TechDesk. This student run space serves the technology needs of Rockhurst students. One of the students who works for the TechDesk expressed his excitement to come to Rockhurst because, “there is technology everywhere.” The TechDesk began when Rockhurst became a 1-1 iPad school in 2014. The Rockhurst Technology Vision Statement reads:
“In keeping with our goal of developing “men for others” and community leaders in an increasingly diverse and technology-driven world, the Rockhurst learning community will be actively engaged in learning through the effective, efficient and ethical use of digital tools in the classroom and beyond.”
Students now use iPads to access academic books, create digital media for class projects, and collaborate with each other with tools such as TurnitIn.com. For all classes, students access their work, schedule, and other class resources through the MyHomework App, which is managed through a teachers page called, teacher.io. Rockhurst does not have a mandated learning management system, but the most common platform is Google Classroom.
This platform makes it easy for students to communicate and collaborate with their teacher and with each other, which supports teacher efforts to scaffold. Some classes are transitioning beyond an online textbook to an entirely online format including assessments.
As of 2016, the school newspaper, the Prep News, went completely digital. Three students are taking multi-calculus through the Jesuit Virtual Learning Academy. The student work from the photography and filmmaking classes will be showcased at the annual Fine Arts Fair on April 5th, 2017.
Above image taken by Rockhurst Photography Student and shown during the 2016 Roscars event
Students in the Design for Industry class built wooden toys to give to children in need, teaching students the power of their learned skills to impact their community. The robotics class is always loud! Students are forced to collaborate while demonstrating their creative and critical thinking skills while working with their robot kits. The school library provides access to a number of digital databases and magazines that help students conduct research. During the 2015-2016 school year, databases were accessed by students over 8,000 times. This research occurs in classes throughout all departments, but especially in the Social Studies Department. The STEAM initiative will be encouraging more student research in the future, as described in the new course offerings.
The Modern Language & Classics Department launched it’s Speaker Space this year. Now, students interact with each other and their teacher with the DiLL software. At least once out of every six class days, students will be using this technology to practice their listening and speaking skills.
Rockhurst High School partnered with the online platform LRNG to create digital badges that will establish credentials for students as they achieve various experience points. Social studies teacher, Tim Reidy, created a “Historian Skills Badge” on the LRNG platform and will be using it within his own classroom as a student project. Two teachers in the Theology department are engaging their students with the Ignatian Carbon Challenge and must submit their progress each month through reports on the ICC platform.
The Rockhurst mathematics department uses personalized mathematics software called Aleks with the Hurtado Scholars. After a first year trial period, the impact of this technology is tremendous. The Aleks data clearly demonstrates that this technological resource allows students to demonstrate their critical thinking skills in way that provides immediate feedback for the students as well as assisting educators in tracking progress.
Technology permeates throughout all of Rockhurst High School. Moving forward, new classes such as Project Lead the Way’s Principles of Engineering (the use of a variety of engineering tools), Fundamentals of Scientific Research (aligning experimental design with appropriate scientific tools) and the Entrepreneurship for Others (Actually building prototypes and using digital resources to conduct market research) are specifically designed to create opportunities for students to continue using technology resources to conduct research, demonstrate creative and critical thinking, and communicate and work collaboratively.
The 1:1 iPad program seeks to increase student learning by ensuring that every student and teacher in every classroom have an Internet-connected iPad.
Our efforts show that the humanities and languages also have a place in the STEAM educational world. The greatest satisfaction is seeing the students’ positive response and to hear them speaking the target language.