FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: From Digital Weather Stations to iPads, E-Readers and Podcasts, Technology Transforms Early Childhood Learning at Ranney School

TINTON FALLS, N.J., April 12, 2011 – Technology at Ranney School has now become a natural part of teaching and learning — especially in early childhood education. Classrooms equipped with modern learning devices such as Smartboards and iPads not only enhance lesson plans, but also inspire collaboration among peers and stimulate learning through touch, sight and sound.

Early childhood students at Ranney have full access to a technology lab in the Lower School. An extension to classroom learning, the lab allows students to practice with letter/sound recognition, counting, categorizing, and identifying shapes and colors, all the while improving hand eye coordination and advancing one’s understanding of the mechanics of a PC.

Using technology, Lower School students learn beyond standard classroom discussions and textbook lessons, encouraging peer-on-peer interaction and allowing teachers to track individual student achievement and frequency of use. Through the development of focused pedagogical plans that still incorporate current educational technologies and hands-on activities, early childhood education engages students in the academic material and prepares them for technological innovations in the years ahead.

In order to ensure that pedagogical goals still coincide with hands-on learning, early childhood instructors research the best iPad applications for their students, with engaging titles such as “Math Piggy,” “Letter Land” and “Internet Alphabet” for preschoolers. Applications not only hold the attention of an early childhood learner, they also promote constant feedback and reinforce matching, memory, sound, categorizing and visual recognition. According to one Pre-K student, “Our favorite game is ‘Starfall,’ because the number of school fish change, and we can change the size of the fish.”

With all the advancements in technology, it is important to note that teachers must combine classroom technology with essential learning skills and tools to ensure that early childhood students receive the best of both worlds. “It is still imperative that our students be guided to appreciate pencil and paper communication,” said Ranney Preschool teacher, Mary Puorro. “Core mechanics such as learning how to write are essential, and are developed through the simplicity of pencil to paper repetition.”

As students transition through the Ranney Lower School, technology continues to serve as a tool used to demonstrate learning through self-expression and research. Media literacy is a crucial part of Ranney’s writing program, teaching students to balance their writing skills with personal narratives and essays, and digital communication. Such self-expression plays a role in artistic form. For instance, students learn to develop multimedia presentations and graphic logos in their Graphic Arts Class. In Science, they use tablets and probes, and track weather patterns using a digital weather station. In the library, students check-out books from hundreds of authors on e-readers, and conduct research on laptops that span across campus. In addition, global education is supported in our Distance Learning Center.

Teachers have the tools to stay current in the digital age. Faculty use handheld devices to support assessment, blog for research and use flip cameras and video tools to share the learning process with families. Fourth and fifth graders give morning announcements, and create and distribute their own video podcasts. “At Ranney, we believe that successful 21st century learners should use technology to advance their knowledge and skills in literature, history, writing, science and math,” said Lower Head of School Patricia Marshall.

As the 21st century continues to unfold, Ranney School will continue to introduce new media in its teaching and learning environment. This introduction should start early, when a child’s curiosity and need to know is uninhibited by what may be perceived as “new.” After young children explore learning with new devices, our next step is to reach well beyond the devices and begin to develop an inventory of web applications that complement our established college preparatory program — extending learning and advising beyond the school day and outside of the school calendar.
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About Ranney School:
Founded in 1960 and serving more than 800 boys and girls, Beginners (age 3) through grade 12, Ranney School is an independent, college preparatory day school located in historic Tinton Falls, New Jersey. Under its motto “knowledge, vision, honor,” Ranney School strives to provide an exceptional academic experience in which every child is known and valued. It emphasizes modern methods of instruction, small class sizes and traditional educational values. For more information, please call Ranney School at 732-542-4777 or visit www.ranneyschool.org.
Press Contact:
Valerie Francois, Ranney School, 732-542-4777 x.1184 vfrancois@ranneyschool.org
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ranneyschool

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