Students in Higley’s Sossaman Early Childhood Development Center now have a dedicated space for computer learning. In early May, Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomason officially opened the Learning Lab, which boasts more than 20 computers. KinderPrep students at the school – those preparing to enter kindergarten in the 2016-17 school year – have been using the lab since early April and demonstrated their skills.
“As our preschool program continues to grow, this Learning Lab offers a way to enhance learning already taking place in the classroom, including literature, creative expression and mathematics,” Dr. Thomason said. “In addition to the education base provided, the Learning Lab allows them to learn real-time skills they will need in the future, such as keyboarding and mouse skills. The idea for the lab came about this year. This summer, a matching Learning Lab will be created at Cooley Early Childhood Development Center, said Early Childhood Education Director Patti Gleason.
“Computers were originally in the classrooms, but staff saw an opportunity to put them all in one lab where students can receive direct instruction for 15 to 20 minutes at a time to really work on skill,” she said. Laura Boone, a technology coach in the Higley Unified School District, worked with Mrs. Gleason to plan the lessons and use of the Learning Lab in January 2016. Mrs. Boone provided instruction to teachers on coding for young learners, keyboarding activities for children, and TuxPaint, a creative expressive program that allows students to use colors and tools to draw and type.
“Many of the lessons are tied to literature,” Mrs. Boone said. “We’ll read a story and then students will draw or create a piece on the computer based on what we’ve read.” Younger student in the centers will receive basic lessons in computer use when it fits in their schedules, Mrs. Gleason said. KinderPrep students will participate in regularly scheduled lessons. “There was no additional cost to the district for the labs,” she said. “The schools already have the computers. This allows us to provide more effective and efficient lessons for the students to enhance learning already taking place in the classroom.”