Welcome to Tech!

Curriculum that engages the imagination

One group of seventh graders is creating a game together; another is animating a story. The students sit around worktables focused on their laptops, immersed in a fluid conversation that includes online collaboration in Scratch, a visual programming language, and in-person discussion with each other and teacher Evan Lucieer.

In the adjoining room, teacher Tina Russo’s sixth graders work in pairs creating code in Scratch to convey their designs of stacked cups. And in the last lab space, students in a Life Skills class are using coding stones with teacher Marcia Daley-Savo, building their skill in following directional language. Everyone is engaged—using their minds, hands, eyes and imaginations.

Space that invites collaboration

embedding digital fluency into creative thinking

All of this is happening in the new Technology Lab at John Jay Middle School. The suite of three spaces, a hip renovation of the technology classrooms that features exposed duct work, glossy wood floors and rolling worktables, is part of an exciting new initiative in the middle school—to embed digital fluency into creative thinking.

“Our new space encourages students to be creators, not just consumers, of digital content in our technology-dominated world,” said Principal Jeff Swiatowicz.

Staff Developer Catherine Graybosch helped develop the new, spiraling curriculum. Director of Technology Chris Nelson consulted on the space’s connectivity and tools. Russo and Lucieer led the initiative—a three-year plan that came together in one.

Take a tour!

integrating science, technology, engineering and math

John Jay Middle School is part of a mini-movement in education—of recasting classrooms which were retrofit to teach technology into spaces purposely designed to facilitate collaborative innovation.

“When we first began thinking about recreating our technology spaces, teachers and administrators spoke to colleagues in the area who were also connecting the dots between technology, innovation and design,” said Principal Swiatowicz. The inquiry took the team to Scarsdale’s Innovation Lab and Chappaqua’s Innovation and Collaboration Learning Lab.

John Jay’s approach includes easy access to technology and a curriculum in which science, technology, engineering and math build and play off one another. It revolves around sustainability, computer science and building.

Level Up is student-centered

“We’re using Level Up learning,” explains Tina Russo, the middle school’s Instructional Lead for Technology. She explains that once a student masters a skill—no matter what grade they are in—they proceed to a more complex challenge. In computer science, for instance, once a student masters Scratch, they move to Lego Robotics, then Auto Cad and Tetrix.

“Level Up takes into account that students have a lot more technology skills than they used to,” said Russo. “Being able to level them up to a place where they are challenged gives them the ability to go further. They take the skills needed for the next level with them.”

When the bell rings, signaling the end of students’ time in the Tech Lab, they are still immersed in their work.

Challenging and absorbing