Middle/Upper School Technology Program
Students at AIM have access to a wide collection of technology tools including speech-to-text (dictation), text-to-speech, as well as audio books. Additionally, our students use a variety of web-based programs such as Google Applications (Earth, Docs, Forms, Sites, SketchUp, Scribe), Haiku, CAST, Storybird, Glogster, Edmodo, Many Eyes, iFlash, Geometer’s Sketchpad, Timeliner, Prezi, Scratch, and GarageBand just to name a few. These resources are used to leverage technology to enhance instruction for our students in ways that were never before possible with just a pen and paper.
All classrooms at AIM are equipped with SMART boards, LCD projectors, and HoverCams which foster interactive, meaningful learning experiences across the curricular areas of reading, writing, math, science and history. SMART boards enable students to work collaboratively on projects ranging from shared notes, to videos, to prezis, which hone their interactive and digital skills. Middle and Upper School students have access to iPads, Kindles, LiveScribe Pens, Learning Ally, and more.
We also have a fully equipped graphics space in the Global Resource Center complete with new 27-inch iMacs, Canon digital SLR cameras, Canon digital video cameras, large format printers, large format scanners, and a Mediascape (a six-person dual screen collaborative digital workstation). The iMacs are loaded with full animation/graphics capabilities enabling students to create and edit video in Final Cut, develop animations, study architectural design in 3D virtual spaces, and edit digital photography using Adobe’s Creative Suite.
We research and select programs that are shown to increase literacy in students with learning differences, such as Don Johnston’s SOLO Suite. This software use is customized for each individual based on the necessary level of remediation and assistance as determined by the highly skilled and trained professionals at AIM. SOLO Suite can be applied in all grades to assist with organization, note-taking, decoding, and improved writing techniques.
Learning to integrate media literacy is a hallmark of AIM’s Middle and Upper programs. Rather than learning to access SOLO Suite and Learning Ally in a bubble and then being asked to apply it in the classroom and at home, students receive direct and explicit instruction from their classroom teachers in areas such as typing, basic tools, SOLO, Assistive Technology and Google Apps. This guarantees that our students will have knowledge of the fundamentals of computer use while also being able to explore creative projects in all core and elective courses.
Creatively introducing technology is a hallmark of a typical AIM classroom. Students use game design programs like Minecraft, Sketchup, and Scratch for creative projects. Students can collaboratively work on a project using a MaKey MaKey soundboard combined with a laptop and the Scratch software to create an interactive lesson teaching vocabulary and word meanings.
All Middle and Upper School students have technology tools at their fingertips and the support to learn how to maximize their uses. Our 1:1 Macbook Program places a laptop in the hands of every student in grades 6-12. Each Macbook is fully loaded with research-based assistive software including but not limited to: Don Johnston's SOLO Suite, Read Naturally, iLife, iWork, Microsoft Office, Sketchup, iFlash, LEGO Mindstorms, Scratch and a variety of other audio/video/graphic programs.
Robotics and engineering courses are offered as part of the core program beginning in 6th grade. As with our entire technology program, we identify access points for robotics and engineering concepts where they align with our curriculum. Because creativity, innovation, critical thinking, flexibility, and problem solving are among the most important 21st century skills, AIM believes that exposure to this coursework is critical for future success. Courses range from introductory programs in 6th grade to competitive VEX electives in Upper School.
Middle School students work with Vex IQ Robotics and continue with LEGO Mindstorms. Through these programs students learn the design and programming skills required to enable robots to perform novel and advanced directives. Upper School students work with VEX Robots in electives offered at varying levels of expertise. Students in these courses may follow generic design patterns or go entirely off the grid and develop unique robots with advanced mobility skills. Our competitive VEX program meets both inside and outside of the school day and is available to students with an interest and commitment to pursuing advanced Robotics.
Our Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Design and Math (STEAM) Wing is home to the 3D Printer and the Middle/Upper School Makerspace. The 3D printer was assembled by students who are currently printing iPhone cases, chess sets, small figurines, and parts for our next 3D printer. The Makerspace is a room designated specifically for tinkering with a wide variety of technologies, robots, and tools. This space gives our students the opportunity to explore and expand their digital and creative skills without the constraints of an assignment.