We believe that students should master and be immersed in the “real world” before navigating the complexities of the virtual or digital world. We want students to develop communication skills, speaking, listening, reading, and writing in person and on paper prior to the introduction of a keyboard or screen. Learning to handwrite before typing supports fine motor coordination and allows for appreciation of the beauty of the written word. Listening and learning from others, in person, and in writing, provides opportunities for engaging lessons in discovery and reflection. They also provide opportunities for students to navigate social complexities and emotions and develop ethical conduct in person before doing so virtually. For these reasons, the use of technology in the curriculum and classroom is not started prior to the Fifth Grade. In the Fifth Grade, the students are introduced to the computer as a tool and are taught word processing (typing) skills. Skills are taught and evolve throughout the Fifth through Eighth grades in order to prepare the students for the rigors and expectations they will meet upon high school entrance. The technology curriculum includes lessons to develop ethical digital citizens who have the experience of being both online producers as well as consumers. To support this, NCS utilizes the Cyber Civics curriculum.
Computers are available for this program both in the computer lab via desktop computers, as well as in the classrooms on Chromebooks. Students and parents are required to sign a technology use agreement each year to ensure proper care and ethics are used when operating technological devices. Teachers and parents find the Common Sense Media website helpful when determining suitable content for the students, and Cyber Wise to know how to keep students safe online. Many of the technology skills students developed beginning in the Fifth Grade, as well as public speaking skills, can be experienced at the annual Eighth Grade Project Presentation evening. At this event, Eighth Grade students present a multimedia presentation and speech to the NCS community about their year-long Eighth Grade Project learning experiences.
In addition to slowly and consciously introducing electronic communication to the students, we strongly encourage families to hold off providing their child with a smartphone until Eighth Grade or after. Few students are developmentally ready to appropriately use smartphones both in monitoring their amount of consumption and content and in regulating their output via social media and communication (texting.) Hard lessons can come to fruition for students on both the contributing and receiving ends of inappropriate content and social actions. Learn more about this national movement for parents to be empowered in delaying their child’s smartphone acquisition at Wait Until 8th.