Technology and Media
Technological advancement has changed life itself. Many of the tools and resources, and even necessities, that we rely on every day require a device and an Internet connection. Adults rely on their devices to keep budgets, finish reports, communicate, and remind them of important events. For many of us, technology takes up a lot of our time, but also helps us manage it. Similarly, children reach for their sibling’s phone or tablet as soon as they learn how to pick up objects, and as they get older have the tendency to become more subconsciously reliant on technology in every facet of life.
It is with this new reality in mind that Alta Loma Christian School provides an academic experience that is not only faith based, safe, nurturing, and empowering, but also connected. In fact, it is our belief that the child who engages with technology and learning under the umbrella of God’s Word has the best opportunity to succeed as an adolescent AND an adult in the realms of purpose, ministry, career, health, and family. Alta Loma Christian School bridges 21st century skills, with 1st century faith.
Computer Classes & Classroom Technology
Every classroom from kindergarten-8th grade is equipped with an interactive whiteboard projector, a teacher iPad, and two computer workstations for student use. Preschool and elementary classes are also able to utilize a mobile iPad lab for interactive and collaborative learning opportunities.
Kindergarten-6th grade classes have computer class once per week in the computer lab (preschool classes are instructed in their classrooms) and are instructed by the dedicated computer teacher and Director of Innovation, Mrs. Laura Deck. 7th and 8th grade computer classes meet twice weekly in the computer lab and focus on entrepreneurship and advertising (7th grade) and social responsibility (8th grade). Additionally, teachers schedule additional time in the computer lab throughout the week for their own technology-based lessons.
Aside from weekly computer classes, below are some of the distinct offerings that are available to ALCS students on a daily basis.
G-Suite (Google Apps) for Education and the Middle School iPad Program
Adobe Creative Cloud
Applied Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
ALCS Tech Fair
Accelerated Reader & Accelerated Math
G-Suite (Google Apps) for Education and the Middle School iPad Program
In 2012, Alta Loma Christian School implemented a 1:1 iPad program in middle school. Every 6th-8th grader receives a school-issued iPad to use at school and home for the duration of the school year. Aside from the convenience of having electronic textbooks, the iPads bring personalized learning, collaboration, and 21st century learning to the forefront of the school’s academic experience. Students use their iPads throughout the school year to create everything from essays and slide presentations to instructional videos and commercials, in addition to communicate and collaborate with their peers and teachers.
In addition, ALCS is a Google Apps for Education school, which allows each middle school student to be issued their own school Google account and email address that aids in enhancing collaboration and communication between the students and faculty, in a safe and encouraging digital environment that is closely monitored by school administrators. With supplemental computer instruction in Google Apps (including Docs, Slides, and Sheets) throughout the school year, our middle school students are exposed to and trained in everyday tools that they are expected to master by high school, and learn to take increasing accountability for their own learning and personal responsibility. Please visit the Middle School Page to learn more about how ALCS teachers and students use iPads to learn, engage, and interact.
A Side Note on Safety: ALCS believes that every student should first be given the freedom to act responsibly and do what is right on their own accord. However, as a governing body that is responsible for their well being during their academic experience, it is imperative to also protect them to our fullest extent. Not only does ALCS have a closely monitored content filter to help protect our students from the malicious, harmful, explicit, and dangerous content that exists on the Internet; it also follows their iPads wherever they go. That means that even when students are at home, a friend’s house, or the local coffee shop, their iPads are still protected by our content filters.
In 2010, ALCS partnered with Beyond Technology Education (BTE) to ensure that our students meet the growing expectations for their future academic and professional careers. BTE provides regular assessment and training of ALCS staff, and a curriculum for each grade level that teaches students the elements of technology required for them to be successful in school and in their careers. Our learners spend ample time mastering the Microsoft Office Suite to strengthen word processing, spreadsheets, multimedia, desktop publishing, and keyboarding skills (all of which are introduced and taught at the kindergarten level). Lessons are also integrated into the existing classroom curriculum at each grade level, creating a seamless inclusion of classroom content into BTE’s technology lessons.
Read more about the goals and objectives of ALCS and BTE.
See samples of what our students learn with the BTE curriculum
Beginning in 2013, Alta Loma Christian School began participating in the Hour of Code, a global movement to expose students of all ages around the world to introductory computer programming – known commonly as coding – using visual block programming. Then, in 2015, ALCS integrated coding into the existing computer curriculum. By implementing a combination of tools and lessons from BTE and Code.org, all students from preschool through eighth grade engage in coding, which is now considered an essential framework of 21st century skills that strengthen students’ abilities to think critically and creatively and prepare them for high school, college, and career. While preschool students learn how to perform precise tasks through platforms like The Foos and Box Island, eighth graders use Scratch to create animations and promotions to raise awareness about responsible citizenship issues like recycling and anti-bullying. Alta Loma Christian School is currently one of the only school systems in Southern California to offer coding instruction to all age levels between preschool and middle school. Our primary objective for coding in the classroom is that our students would not simply be users of technology, but innovators and creators of it.
Adobe Creative Cloud
In 2016, Alta Loma Christian School became an Adobe Creative Cloud school, offering the full suite of Adobe products that have been the industry standard for everything from graphic design and photography to animation and video production. Students in 1st-8th grade are exposed to Adobe Illustrator, with older students transitioning from completing existing tutorials to producing original creations, including official materials and promotional campaigns for the school. Moving forward, the computer curriculum will be further integrated with instruction in Adobe Photoshop and Premiere.
Adobe Lunch – Adobe Lunch is an opportunity for our middle school students to explore Adobe Creative Cloud at their own pace. Throughout the week, the computer lab is open for 6th-8th grade students to be creative without boundaries and create to their hearts’ content. While computer classes offer ample instruction time, students are expected to follow the instructor’s lead and complete specific tasks. During Adobe Lunch, the students are able to use those same learned skills to create, improve, and complete their own projects. And although there is constant supervision, there is no formal instruction during Adobe Lunch, which pushes students to become stronger independent learners.
TECCI and Applied Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
In late 2015, Dr. Vance Nichols—ALCS Head of School and a 2015 Innovation Scholar at USC—founded The Eagle Center for Creativity and Innovation (TECCI) at ALCS. TECCI focuses on providing unique opportunities for student creativity and innovation, all in the context of a Christian worldview. This includes applied science, technology, engineering, mathematics, fine arts, visual arts (including media and screen arts), performing arts, and entrepreneurship. TECCI was founded to provide support for existing, ongoing, and new curricular and co-curricular elements related to creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship at ALCS (see the ALCS Tech Fair and the work of ALCS’ Director of Innovation, Laura Deck). TECCI is an incubator for conceiving and growing new and emerging arts and sciences programs at ALCS, each designed to equip our students with unique 21st century learning opportunities.
In 2016-2017, the first new co-curricular program was launched for 1st-8th grade students under the TECCI umbrella: The SpaceEagles STEM Initiative. The mission of the SpaceEagles STEM Space Science and Engineering program is to join the exploratory nature of our interested learners with the beauty of God’s created sciences—together with the power of modern technology—in applied, real-world settings. Alta Loma Christian School offers three after-school, year-long sections of its SpaceEagles STEM program (download applications here):
- 6th-8th grade: Space and Engineering, Quest for Space ISS Project Level 2 – SpaceEagles work collaboratively with each other, and jointly alongside the Quest Institute and Valley Christian Schools, throughout the school year to create the ground unit for an electronic module that will be sent to the International Space Station for data gathering and feedback. Our SpaceEagles use LEGO Mindstorms EV-3 software and specially-created hardware that involves physical wiring, diagramming, and computer programming to develop a functional module that gathers sensor data robotically, via software written by ALCS STEM students. This experimental robotics software is transported to the International Space Station, where it controls robotics in an experiment conducted within a specially-engineered module that mimics the ground unit assembled by ALCS STEM students. The data is then sent from the ISS to a ground station and then back to the school for evaluation by the ALCS STEM team. On June 3, 2017, SpaceX launched the SpaceEagles‘ completed robotics software experiment to the International Space Station aboard a refurbished Dragon 9 capsule in the 100th launch from the historic Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The ALCS experiment was extracted by astronauts and brought aboard the ISS on Monday, June 5, and was scheduled to be activated and running from June 12-23. It marks the first time in spaceflight history that STEM teams from multiple middle schools have had their experiments sent into space. Read more about the successful mission here.
- 4th-5th grade: Space and Engineering, Quest for Space ISS Project Level 1 – SpaceEagles learn about the science of the universe with in-depth lessons, videos, and hands-on experiments. The SpaceEagles also collaborate and become mentorees under the Level 2 SpaceEagles as they are introduced to current space-centered science experiments being prepared for launch to the International Space Station by the Level 2 team. This includes familiarization with the LEGO Mindstorms EV-3 environment and related elements of the mission. Both Level 1 and Level 2 also engage in additional space science and engineering learning, including a growing, hands-on exploration of robotics.
- 1st-3rd grade: Space and Engineering, Rocketry – SpaceEagles in STEM Rocketry learn about the science that goes into creating and launching rockets, including aerodynamics, flight, rocketry, engineering, the scientific method, and space science. Throughout the year, these SpaceEagles learn new concepts and gradually build their own rockets and, at the end of the school year, launch them together on their Model Rocketry Field Day (see below). The ALCS STEM Rocketry program utilizes educational materials from the National Association of Rocketry (NAR), Estes Educator, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute for Technology (Caltech), and NASA.
All three SpaceEagles STEM sections incorporate elements of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in their lessons and experiments, taught in the context of a distinctly biblical worldview.
The Quest for Space project is a joint program created by the Quest Institute, which was founded by Valley Christian Schools of San Jose, CA. Eleven middle schools and elementary schools across the country—including ALCS—currently participate in the Quest for Space ISS Project, which partners with LEGO Education, Microsoft, NanoRacks, and NASA.
ALCS Tech Fair
In 2017, Alta Loma Christian School introduced its inaugural Tech Fair to highlight the technical and creative skills of our 2nd-8th grade students. Students who sign up for the now annual Tech Fair create original products in video production, digital gaming, photography, animation, productivity design, graphic design, or graphic 3D modeling and present their creations to panel of qualified judges. Special recognition is given to the highest-scored projects at an all-school assembly, and all participants receive an ALCS Tech Fair spirit shirt and ice cream party. To find out more about the 2017 Tech Fair and see some of the creative work of our “techies,” click here.
Accelerated Reader & Accelerated Math
Alta Loma Christian School participates in the Accelerated Reader and Accelerated Math programs. These technology-based programs allow students to read books and master math skills that are appropriate to their individual levels, take quizzes on computer, and track their own performance in reading comprehension and math mastery, respectively. A wide selection of books are available to our students in our school library which contains over 6,000 titles. Parents can also connect to Accelerated Reader online to monitor their child’s progress.