"Technology is part of everyday life here -- it's part of everything we do," says Principal Linda Goldberg of Hunters Woods Elementary School in Reston, Virginia.
The school combines an abundance of state-of-the-art equipment with a learning environment that is a perfect fit for the integration of technology. Long-term, open-ended projects in every subject provide opportunities for the school's 743 kindergarten through sixth-grade students to learn through independent and cooperative research. As part of these projects, students access and sort through information as they conduct online interviews with experts, participate in video conferences with people outside their school, and use resources such as CD-ROMs and the Internet for research.
Students often work together in groups to build their final products, using computer-based tools such as slide shows and graphics, animation, and digital cameras.
Technology plays a key role in the school's focus on arts and science. Because Hunters Woods is a magnet school, students come to the school for specialized programs in these subjects. Computer software, online science resources, and real-time access to scientists complement hands-on experiences in the school's Science Discovery Center, a lab which enriches science taught in the classroom.
Students also participate in online programs sponsored by NASA and National Geographic. Technology enhances projects in the visual and performing arts as well -- students videotape the development of plays, musical reviews, and even an opera that they wrote themselves.
The students review the tape or reflect on scripts, musical scores, and performances. Using software, students develop virtual tours of temporary museums, called Museums in Progress. Parents and community members can take the virtual tours in addition to visiting traditional displays and exhibits designed by students. Many student projects are published on the school's Everyday Home Page, which is accessible to the school community via the Internet.