The technology lab at Holy Trinity School’s Westfield Campus looks like you’d expect: Computers running Google Chrome. A SMART Board and a 3D printer. And technology teacher leading a room full of kindergartners, happily clicking away.
Wait, kindergartners? Yes, technology is part of the curriculum for all K-8 students, who receive a full 45 minutes of computer instruction each week, tailored to each grade level. This week, for instance, K through third-grade students at Holy Trinity learned online research skills, in lessons that also reinforced reading and vocabulary.
The Kindergarten class began with a weekly routine — students checking a live feed of their favorite animals at the San Diego Zoo, squealing with excitement upon seeing the pandas and koalas they’ve come to know. “Where are the tigers?” asked Mrs. Spellman, the technology teacher. “They must be sleeping.” A Kindergartner answers back, “They are nocturnal.” Next, Mrs. Spellman showed the Holy Trinity Kindergarteners how to navigate an online picture dictionary, controlling their computers from hers. Finally, they completed a worksheet with fill-in-the-blank problems giving clues about the types of animals they would be searching for in the online dictionary.
Earlier that day, third graders had a similar lesson, searching for occupations. Intent and focused, they looked for occupations, such as meteorologist, and then filled in their worksheets. Even in computer class traditional learning meets the modern. Students scribbled out big words like zoologist and astronomer on the worksheets but took time to do it in cursive writing, which is standard at Holy Trinity School.
In December, students will be taking part in Code.org’s global “Hour of Code” program, according to Mrs. Spellman, smiling as she added “at Holy Trinity we have a month of code.” Students of all grade levels enjoy coding so much that she usually extends the coding lesson for a few class sessions. And with a flexible curriculum, Mrs. Spellman can adjust the lesson plan to the interest of each particular class.
At Holy Trinity, computers and technology are not just confined to the computer lab. The school has SMART Boards in every classroom, iPad carts and Chromebook carts. Currently, each eighth grader has a dedicated Chromebook for the entire days’ lessons — something that will be expanded to the entire middle school. Fifth through eighth graders all have Google accounts. They are not only taught data literacy and productivity tools, but also proper internet citizenship — in keeping with the religious values emphasized in all subject areas at Holy Trinity.
Since 1916, Holy Trinity School has provided a quality Catholic education to Westfield and the surrounding communities. A 2011 National Blue Ribbon and a Middle States accredited school, its mission is to educate students to actualize their full, individual potential, both spiritually and academically. Holy Trinity School-Peace-Service-Prayer www.htisnj.com