Chickering’s Digital Future

Charging station for 10 student  chromebooks.Everywhere you look there seems to be technology in our school. There is a lot of technology in the world, such as,  2-in-1 laptop hybrids, 3D Printers, smaller tablets and we wanted to learn what types of technology are planned for our school. Each year it seems we have more devices and software to use so we talked to two people who make decision about technology, Mr. Ritacco, Technology Director and Mr. Harte, Technology Integration Coach.

We asked the Technology Director, Mr Ritacco, what are the devices that are currently being used in the building. “A number of different devices are being used in the building. We have iPads in the lower grades (K-3), ChromeBooks in upper grades (4 and 5). We have laptop carts, MacBook Pro’s, and Interactive WhiteBoards [IWBs] that work with projectors, for the teachers. Finally, there are desktops throughout the school and in two computer labs.”

He also shared, we are hoping to get 1-to-1 iPads in the lower grade levels (K-3) and 1-to-1 ChromeBooks in the upper grade levels (4-5). We are getting “reading” software including Google Read & Write. Another  possibility is getting interactive tables. The Technology Department is going to other schools to see what technology they have. They’re also going to a MassCue conference at Patriot Place where you can see new advances in the field of electronics.

We were curious about what interesting software/apps are in the building. Mr. Ritacco said, software is department specific, for example reading software includes Google Read & Write. The Technology Department is trying to eliminate new software purchases since we have gone to Google Domain, which offers lots of Apps and Extensions.

One of the newest technologies is a 3D printer, which, as the name says, Is a mechanism which prints out 3D objects. We decided to ask Mr, Ritacco if our school would be getting one. “We are hoping to get a 3D printer in every building,” says Mr.Ritacco. He thinks that 3D Printers would help kids a great deal in science.Though there will be some limitations, especially size of what they can create, and the teachers will decide what the kids make. This should be a great way to fuel kids’ imaginations.             

With 3D Printers, interactive tables and 1:1 ChromeBooks possibly being in our school  next year, we will be sad to not be here to use them. But hopefully the Middle School will have them.  

With this technology on the horizon,  we wanted to have an interview with Mr Harte, Technology Integration Coach for Chickering School, about what his plans are and what technology we already have.

We asked Mr Harte what the plan is for coding. Mr Harte with 3 Chickering reporters outside the computer lab.We are learning pre-advanced concepts, computation, recomputation and abstracting. We are having plugged lessons (where you use the computer) and surprisingly unplugged lessons (not using the computer), We’re learning how to draw and use functions in Scratch (a function is a box of code with something like a word or button that activates it, when you look up something on Google and you click the search button it activates a function to search what you typed into the box), since students didn’t learn coding last year 5th graders are doing the same coding as 4th graders.

We asked Mr Harte about what content he is doing with other grades, There’s coding in each grade; fourth and fifth are doing Scratch; grades 2 and 3 are doing Hour of Code; first graders are building their own mazes to use with BeeBots and kindergarten is programming BeeBots, as usual.

When we asked Mr.Harte what the plans are for next year’s students, he said it’s the same thing in fourth grade. Fifth graders will be doing something a little more advanced. He does professional development and workshops with teachers. He works on advancing his own skills occasionally with iPad apps.

Student, sitting at a desk, using a school ChromeBook.We were wondering what software and hardware Mr. Harte would like to see in our school, so we decided to ask him. He wants to see more computers like ChromeBooks in the school and more with iPads.

We asked Mr. Harte what is the best thing he made with technology. Mr. Harte says a lot of things he is proud of have been created from Scratch. Mr. Harte creates spreadsheets for teachers to use in collecting data and he enjoys making things that will help somebody else.

We really liked Mr Harte’s analogy that you can’t use one tool, technology device, for everything, “You can use a hammer to pound in a nail but if you have a screw you’re not going to use a hammer to pound a screw into a wall”. We’re excited to see this technology in our school next year. We’re pretty excited about the 3D Printers, what are you excited about? Are there any other new technologies Chickering  should have?