Technology at PKS

An update on the school’s technology program.

Technology is the Bay Area’s signature industry, but at PKS, technology takes its cues from our educational mission, philosophy, and organizational needs. Last year, the school embarked on an initiative to build a 3-year technology roadmap. That roadmap started with the PKS mission:

“to inspire and empower creative, confident, and engaged global citizens to lead and contribute in a future filled with challenge and possibility.”

With input from staff, faculty, Trustees, and parents, as well as best practices from schools across the country, the PKS team outlined needs and priorities to enhance the student experience and further build PKS as a long-lasting institution.

For the Teachers

As a growing school, with more colleagues to collaborate with across grade levels, classrooms spread amongst three buildings, and a greater investment in professional development, our teachers needed a tool to share curriculum, lesson plans, trainings, and new ideas.

By developing a clear, centralized file structure that borrows from the teachers’ own user needs and instituting standard protocols for sharing information, we have provided teachers with a portal that has near 100% adoption!

we need to recognize when an iPad or an app is a tool just like a pencil is a tool we use for learning.

For the Students

In Head of School Lee Drolet’s words, “we need to recognize when an iPad or an app is a tool just like a pencil is a tool we use for learning.” With this in mind, a new EdTech Committee met to discuss key questions, such as when students should learn to type (Grade 4), how the STEM curriculum could support the units of exploration and introduce relevant hands-on technology experiences (e.g., building an earthquake simulator for the “My City” unit), and when a digital citizenship curriculum should be introduced (Grade 4 students and parents signed a first-ever digital pledge earlier this year).

Lee and the committee also tackled questions about timing on a 1:1 student device program, which has become a near “must” for today’s students. PKS started its own modified 1:1 device program this year with school-provided ThinkPads for third and fourth graders. According to Grade 4 student Ariana Frey, “we like storing our work on our hard drive, and tabs we were using stay open.”

For the School

As PKS grows, our back-end systems must also become robust platforms to track our students, from their evolving status as prospective candidates, through to Grade 8 graduates, and beyond as alumni. During their time as a student, PKS is responsible for accurately recording the basics, such as emergency contact information, medical records, allergies, and tuition payments. But the school also needs to be in tune with the “whole student,” and that means compiling trimester assessments, student portfolios, notes from parent-teacher conferences, MAP test scores, and, eventually, converting these into meaningful transcripts for high school admissions.

PKS engaged a data specialist – a parent in our very talented community! – to construct a student information model and help evaluate an off-the-shelf student information system (SIS). A cross-functional team is in the process of selecting a product that will help further organize admissions, enrollment, student information management, and fundraising. We’re looking forward to further streamlining existing school processes and consolidating our core data so that it can be leveraged in new and exciting ways.

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These are just a few highlights from the PKS Technology Roadmap. As each component is implemented, and the roadmap is refreshed every year, we can anticipate a shiny, buffed PKS that hums as beautifully for our community on the outside as the mechanics do on the inside. 

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