Ursuline Academy is a school with a technology focus.
It embodies this focus through the meaningful integration of technology into the academic curriculum and in the active shaping of its students as digital citizens. Students and employees are educated in the appropriate use of technology and principles of responsible digital citizenship are reinforced through school policies. With a strong commitment to technology training for all teachers, Ursuline encourages creative and innovative uses of digital resources in the classroom.
As one of the first schools in the country to implement a 1:1 laptop program (1996), Ursuline was named a 1998 Laureate as an "innovative user of information technology" by The Computerworld Smithsonian Awards. The technology program was also recognized as a Selected Program for Improving Catholic Education at the 1999 SPICE Symposium, sponsored by the National Catholic Educational Association.
Technology integration is essential for the 21st century classroom.
From STEM to the Arts, here are highlights of the many ways in which innovative technology supports student learning across the curriculum at Ursuline Academy.
At the start of the 2020-2021 school year, Ursuline acquired 63 Microsoft Surface Hubs, which allow remote learners to engage with in-person classes in real time. The hub is an amazing, fully integrated Windows 10 device optimized for distance learning. Using the hub technology, our teachers are able to provide students with as close to an in-class experience as possible.
Anatomy students work with 3D printed skulls and pelvic bones, using paints to identify bone-marks on the 3D printed models. They make small videos over the bone-marks to show their knowledge. Early in 2019, Ursuline Academy became the first high school in Dallas to acquire an Anatomage virtual dissection table: allowing students to explore virtual representations of the intricacies of real human bodies.
In Anatomy, Biology, and AP Biology classes, students use Motic software to take pictures of slides they observe with digital microscopes, labeling the cells and structures on their computers. Students also make stop motion animation videos with their phones over cell transports and cell divisions. Other software tools include:
- Kahoot, a game-based learning platform, for review classes
- Camtasia and ScreenCase, for creating flipped classroom videos that are posted to YouTube
- Internet access for webquests and virtual labs
- Vernier Probeware for data collection and labs
- Logger Pro to digitally collect data and automatically generate data plots during experiments
- Socrative, Quizlet, Edpuzzle web sites for formative assessments
- OneNote to present lessons, gather feedback, and have students share work
- App Inventor to design Apps and TinkerCAD for 3D printing
- LabPro/LabQuest, CO2 sensors, pH sensors for labs
- Light microscopes and stereomicroscopes for labs
Insight software is used by ceramic students to calculate and create unique glaze formulas. Adobe Photoshop is used as an integral part of Digital Photography classes and in Studio Art IV to create digital collages as inspiration for creating paintings.
Adobe Premier Pro video editing software is taught and used in the Filmmaking curriculum, as students learn to edit their own short films. Other online applications used in Visual Arts include:
- Photographers’ Ephemeris for sun and moon position at any given time, date, and place
- Camera simulator for understanding camera operation
- Photo sharing to illustrate ideas
- Depth-of-field calculator to ensure proper focus
- Star Guide application to trace stars to be photographed
- Weebly.com for creating on-line websites for student art portfolios
- Voice-Thread, an online platform for uploading photos of artwork for recording/receiving audio feedback in collaborative art critiques
Students use the Internet and library databases for texts and research, learning the process of Internet research and digital literacy, how to find accurate and reliable information, and how to assess validity and bias. They share and comment on essays in real time, and Creative Writing class is experimenting with cyber portfolios.
One teacher’s ongoing project encourages students to use Twitter as a space to share current events that have connections to the literature the class is reading/discussing. TED talks are viewed as ways to enhance or set up a particular lesson or idea. Students use Pixton or ComicLife programs to help design their own graphic novels. They create videos to create a reimagined scene in The Odyssey or Macbeth, for example, or to design movie trailers for a specific text.
Teachers use smart phone apps like the Kaplan SAT Question of the Day or dictionary apps.
Access to the library collection is available to students through the library automation system Destiny where students may search the collection, identify resources, place items on hold, and renew.
Students have access to several ebook collections: Overdrive offers one-to-one circulation of high interest fiction and non-fiction titles to mobile devices including laptops, smart phones, ereaders and tablets; other ebook platforms such as Destiny Discover, ABC-Clio ebooks, and Gale Virtual Reference Library offer unlimited access to resources for use in research.
LibGuides allows librarians to curate particular collections which guide students as they are assigned research as part of the curriculum. The UA library subscribes to and provides access to many general and subject specific databases for use in research. All databases are accessible remotely.
EZProxy will provide remote single sign-in access to all library resources, removing additional login requirements for individual databases and providing ease of use for our students.
In U.S. History Class, students use the Ford Theater website and WeVideo to make videos using Lincoln’s speeches, and to create movie trailers of events in history.
College Counseling uses Naviance to transmit school supporting documents to colleges, to create surveys for students and parents, to post scholarships and other announcements, visits from colleges, to register students for AP exams and practice PSAT, SAT, and ACT test opportunities, to create reports for admission and scholarship data.
At Ursuline, every student learns how to code.
Because technology is limitless, so is imagination, and the Academy's Computer Science Department keeps each student on the cutting edge.
Students can also request additional courses to further their programming skills. The Computer Science Advanced Topic Honors course was added to extend the curriculum and challenge the students.
In Engineering Design Innovation, students are taught the design process to engineer and innovate new products. They might explore programming 3D printers or drones to meet the needs of their "customers."
Finally, Ursuline’s Computer Science Club competes in all-female programming competitions and hosts an annual Hackathon at the school.
Eve Juarez, Computer Science Department Chair
"Ursuline allows us to drive our own curriculum and try new ideas. In class, we want programming, but also critical thinking and design. Computer Science offers open-ended problems, and that's what our students will face in the real world.”
A wide range of technological tools are used at Ursuline to foster individualized skill development, student learning, and more effective assessments.
Included, for example, are Microsoft Hubs, 3D printers, language labs, Office 365, Microsoft Stream, Web 2.0 tools, scientific logging hardware and software, computer programming authoring tools, publication software for the student newspaper and literary magazine, and library research resources.
Teachers also use technology to support their pedagogical approaches. Examples include the use of Story Remix, a video production and editing tool, and YouTube together with our learning management system to facilitate blended learning environments. Teachers have the freedom to explore different technologies to find those with which they are most comfortable and may use most effectively, and students have a wider range of technology-based learning techniques made available to them. In addition, all teachers participate in Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Certification.
Faculty across all disciplines engage in ongoing professional development to learn how ever-evolving technology resources can be used in ways which strengthen the student educational experience.