In the City of York, the need to support teachers with this integration was clearly identified. Several curriculum guidelines were developed. "The Teachers' Toolbox - A Resource Guide for Using Microcomputers in the Curriculum" was produced to show teachers how both Information Technology and Design Technology could be introduced into their programs. Two curriculum units for Kindergarten to Grade 8 have also been created. These are "Communities - An Integrated Unit" and "Icarus and Beyond - An Integrated Unit". Both of these theme-based guidelines direct teachers on ways to experiment with all aspects of technology while still incorporating the traditional areas of the curriculum.
Whenever major change is expected, it is critical to ensure that there is adequate support for the individuals involved. Learning technologies has not been easy for many of our teaching staff and using the computer in the classroom was quite intimidating for some. The majority of the teachers in the Kindergarten to Grade 6 level are women who, historically, have had very little background in technology.
In order to facilitate the process, four Computer Assistants were hired to aid teachers and students with the introduction of Information Technology into the classroom program. Because all four Assistants are women, they serve as excellent role models for both the teachers and the students. No longer is the world of computers seen strictly as the "male domain". The female students are being encouraged to take leadership roles and are becoming more actively involved in developing an awareness and interest in technology.
The Design Centre
A second component of the technology initiatives within the City of York Board of Education involves visits by students to our Design Centre. This Centre is located in one of our Elementary schools and is staffed by an outreach teacher, a resident teacher, and a design technician.
The Design Centre program is divided into three stages. The first involves planning cooperatively between the classroom teacher and the outreach teacher for the three day Centre visit. A theme is selected and activities that will enhance the visit are developed and introduced into the classroom.
While at the Design Centre, the resident teacher continues the design activities which often involves the development of technological skills and attitudes that might not be acquired in the regular classroom situation.
The final stage of the Design Centre program involves follow-up visits to the classroom. The classroom teacher is supported as new topics are planned and developed so that the design activities will continue in the classroom for the rest of the year. The aim is to make the teachers comfortable with creating and using various technologies with their students.
The students work in groups while at the Centre. Because there is an expectation that all students will be involved in the activities, boys and girls share equally in the division of responsibilities. Since all three staff at the Design Centre are women, the students are exposed to female role models once again.
Summer School Programs
The Young Inventors' Program is a full-day summer program that runs for four weeks. It was developed for students in Grade 2 to Grade 8. Areas the children have investigated are robotics, space and the future, and the environment. One of the aims of the program is to ensure that all students are given the opportunity to develop their personal capabilities, which is achieved through practical problem-solving and using new concepts and skills in conjunction with design-and-make activities.