At Great Hearts Irving, we do not teach to the test. We seek to educate the whole person—mind and body, heart and soul. Nevertheless, the STAAR test represents one element of our holistic approach to evaluating our students’ academic progress. In addition, our students’ performance on the STAAR exam is an important component in determining the Accountability Rating we receive from the State of Texas. Due to the exceptionally-rich classical, liberal arts education our students receive—an education that offers them so much more than a simple test could measure—our students regularly perform highly on standardized assessments, including the STAAR exam. For more on our approach to standardized testing, visit greatheartsirving.org/testing.
We also remain steadfast in our belief that children should use technology only as much as is necessary. There is increasing evidence that overuse of electronics by children has serious, long-term detrimental effects on their development and mental health. We are just as firm in our commitment to keep our classrooms as “low tech” as possible beyond some standard devices like a document camera and projector that greatly aid the work of our teachers. Our students spent the vast majority of their time engaging with real things—books made out of paper, pencils made out of wood with erasers made out of rubber, seashells, rocks, leaves, and feathers.
As you may know, this year all 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders will take the STAAR test on computer. There will also be new question types that will require students to type in text responses. To help prevent typing and the new computer-based format of the STAAR test from becoming a barrier to our students successfully demonstrating their knowledge, this year we have purchased access to TypingClub.com for all 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade students.
What is TypingClub.com?
TypingClub.com is a comprehensive typing skills platform designed specifically for children. TypingClub.com comes with the recommendation of the Great Hearts Texas Academic Support team who considered numerous alternatives. 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders will be able to login to TypingClub.com with their unique accounts to practice their typing skills at home in preparation for the STAAR exam in the spring.
How does my child access TypingClub.com?
Login information will be sent home with each 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade student. To login, just visit greatheartstx.typingclub.com and enter your child’s unique username. You do not need a password. The program will track your child’s progress so that he/she can work on it a little bit at a time. We recommend students spend no more than 20 to 30 minutes on TypingClub.com per day.
If you lose your child’s username, need help logging in, or just have questions about TypingClub.com, contact Mr. Beyer at Thomas.Beyer@greatheartsirving.org or Mr. Tiffin at Robert.Tiffin@greatheartsirving.org.
What about Typing Club?
To provide 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade students an additional opportunity in which to hone their typing and computer literacy skills, we will be offering teacher-sponsored Typing Clubs throughout the year in which students will log on to their TypingClub.com account and progress through it under the supervision of our club sponsors. The system keeps track of students’ progress, so students registered for Typing Club who would like to log on at home as well are able to pick up right where they left off at school. Similarly, students who have already made progress at home can continue from the same spot when they begin Typing Club at school.
For details on how to register your child for an upcoming session of Typing Club, visit greatheartsirving.org/lowerschoolclubs. Questions regarding our teacher-sponsored Typing Club or clubs in general should be directed to Mrs. Pantin at Mary.Pantin@greatheartsirving.org.
What are some ways I can keep my child safe online?
While use of internet-enabled devices by children contains a certain amount of inherent risk from child predators, scam artists, and others, there are some simple, concrete steps you can take to help keep your child as safe as possible.
- Children should only use computers, laptops, tablets, or other devices in common areas like the living room, dining room, or kitchen—never bedrooms, or other private areas of the home.
- Children should only use devices in places where the screen is in full view of an adult.
- Children should only use devices when an adult is able to provide at least periodic supervision.
- Children should be told which specific websites they are permitted to visit, rather than being allowed to browse at will.
- Children should be permitted to use the computer for a predetermined amount of time.
- Parents should investigate available parental control settings on the device itself as well as the web browser to ensure inappropriate content is blocked from view.
- Parents should set clear expectations for the amount of time the child will use the device and stick to them. Some devices allow parents to set them to automatically deactivate after a preset amount of time has elapsed.
- Children should be told, in a developmentally-appropriate way, that if they ever feel uncomfortable, scared, or sad because of something they saw or read online, they should tell an adult right away.
- When children do not meet the expectations set for them regarding use of electronic devices, they should lose access to those devices for an appropriate period of time. In a recent tip from the Love and Logic Institute, Dr. Charles Fay specifically addressed technology use in children and some ways to set healthy limits.