Brewster Academy Blogs



Is Brewster still “that technology school”?

In 1993, Brewster began a school change process that affected every aspect of the school.  What was then called the School Design Model (SDM) is now referred to as simply the Brewster Model.  The technology part of this change process manifested itself by Brewster becoming a 1:1 laptop school, which was quite a pioneering endeavor at that time. The conception of technology integration at that time was described in the 1997 Brewster Program Handbook as follows:

“The Brewster Program is based upon the belief that technology is an important tool for learning. Technology is employed in the Brewster Program to enhance teaching, learning, evaluation, communication and administration. Technology used should be planned, linked to the Brewster Curriculum and its learner outcomes, and evaluated.

Brewster Academy recognizes that computer and multi media technology is a powerful interactive vehicle for teaching and learning. Brewster also recognizes the explosion of technological development, which is redefining schools and education. Brewster Academy is committed to graduating students who are among the technologically enfranchised. Brewster’s graduates can compete in a high tech world among those who are the haves, those who will succeed in the information age. The Brewster approach requires a fully integrated system of technology, which supports, guides and responds to the teaching and learning activities that are essential components of the daily lives of teachers and students in the Brewster community. Network technology is used for the management and implementation of instruction as well as research and communication. The Macintosh Powerbook is as common as a book bag at Brewster. The new Brewster classroom is a technology rich study center linked to a world of information beyond the walls of the academic building to the vast potential of the Internet.” 

It is remarkable how, two decades later, this conception of educational technology integration fits with our current goals for this area. This vision highlights how technology is not a separate entity, but has always been an integrated part of the program that serves curriculum, evaluation, data gathering, communication, etc.

Being one of the first 1:1 laptop programs in the country, and providing universal access to both intranet and internet networks, Brewster quickly developed a reputation for being “that technology school”. Literally hundreds of visitors flocked to our doors to learn about how to implement a 1:1 laptop program.  Today, many schools now have 1:1 technology programs in many different forms, so this begs the question:  Is Brewster still “that technology school”?

In an attempt to answer this question, the offices of the Dean, Admissions, Advancement, Communications and IT are coordinating a fact gathering exercise that will take place over the next few months.  To gather information about Brewster’s technology strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT), focus groups will be formed to represent the entire BA community – students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, trustees, and prospective students and their parents.

The goal of this project is to use the information, along with a survey of peer institutions, to determine:

  • what makes Brewster special when it comes to technology use and integration
  • what areas of technology need to be improved
  • what technologies must we implement now to stay ahead of the curve
  • what technologies must we consider for future innovation

Stay tuned for future messages which may be asking for your involvement in this Technology SWOT process.

Note:  Parts of the text above were extracted from Brewster’s Dean of Studies, Peter Hess’ white paper from October 2014 titled “Technology at Brewster Academy”

Video for Students: Social Media Smart

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iMovie Tutorials

You can find Brewster’s iMovie Tutorials at this YouTube Playlist:

iMovie Video Tutorials

Mac 101: Searching Shortcut + Quick App Launcher

Press Command+Space on your keyboard and the spotlight search bar will appear in the upper right hand corner of your computer screen.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 3.35.33 PM

Start typing to search for an app, document, image or file and your results will start to autocomplete the search field with suggestions:

Example: Searching for Safari

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 3.35.51 PM

Select your choice with your mouse or by pressing the down and up arrows on your keyboard and the press return key to open your desired app or document.

If you select a document or image, a “Quick Look” version will appear to the left of the column so you can see if you are opening the correct file.

Spotlight Quicklook


Mac101: “Quick Look” with Spacebar

To take a “Quick Look” at a file without launching the application:
Highlight your file and press the Space Bar on your keyboard

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 9.05.56 AM

This will create a large thumbnail of document/picture without launching the application it was created with:
Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 9.06.32 AM


Additionally, you can press the down and up arrows on your keyboard to browse files and folders in a via “Quick Look”.
Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 9.23.51 AM


Twitter for Teachers

Twitter can be used in two primary ways in education – to communicate with and engage your students in new ways AND to connect with other educators around the world to share ideas and resources.  Here are a few articles to pique your interest.  If you are new to Twitter and would like some assistance in setting up an account and exploring, don’t hesitate to stop down at the Tech Office to get some assistance.

How to use Twitter in the classroom without compromising your professional relationship with your students
In this article there are lots of links to guide you towards using Twitter as a tool to keep up with subject specific trends, ideas and resources.  Written by Mike Reading who is a Google-certified teacher and has taught in a range of school environments including K-12, high school and a senior college.

Teaching with Twitter: Extending the conversation beyond the classroom walls
Although this article is written by a college professor, I think his ideas could definitely resonate with high school teachers.  David R. Wessner, professor of biology, Davidson College writes “While several studies like this one have demonstrated increased learning gains associated with the use of Twitter, I argue that instructors have not capitalized fully on the most powerful benefit of this social networking platform – the ability to include outside discussants. With Twitter, we can include various people with different areas of expertise in our discussions. We no longer need to be limited by the expertise of the people in our class. We no longer need to limited by the viewpoints or personal experiences of the people in our class. To this end, I have used Twitter in the classroom specifically to engage a larger audience in our class discussions.”

50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom
Here are a few of the tips from the article:

Provide the class with a running news feed
Subscribe to different mainstream and independent news feeds with different biases as a way to compare and contrast how different perspectives interpret current events and issues.

At the conclusion of a class, ask students to type a 140-character or less summary of what they have learned and perhaps pose any questions to be considered in the next class.

Follow the issues
Bring a little technology into debates by asking the class which issues they would like to follow. Subscribe to relevant hash tags and accounts from all perspectives and compile an updated resource cobbling together as much research as possible.

Set up a foreign language news stream
Keep foreign language students informed of current events from relevant nations while simultaneously challenging them to use their translation skills by keeping a specific news feed.

Chat with industry professionals
Older high school students who need to explore their career options before spiriting away to college benefit from real-world discussions with professionals in paths they’re considering. Twitter helps them connect with primary sources and facilitates educational communication.

Mac101: Quick App Switching

You can quickly switch between open applications by pressing Cmd+Tab on your keyboard.

Press once and the last open app will appear.

Hold the Cmd key down and press Tab multiple times to select one of your open apps.


Uploading Audio to Google Classroom

  1. Within Google Classroom, create a new assignment and “Click upload a file”
    Uploading a File in Google Classroom
  2. Drag the file into the window or browse your computer to select your “Audio File”
    Drag Files Here
  3. Click the “Upload” button.
    Upload Button
  4. In Google Classroom you should see your Audio File
    View your uploads
  5. If you or your students click on the file name, they will see this screen:
    Play Audio
  6. When the “Play Button” is clicked, the user may be prompted with an option to select a method of playing the file. You have the option of downloading the audio file or playing it in the browser. If you want to play in the browser, you must first connect an “Audio App”- to do so select “Music Player for Google Drive”
  7. You will be prompted to accept Google Permissions, Click “Accept”
    Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 9.01.21 AM
  8. The Audio file should be converted (this will not effect your original file)
    Music Player

Google Docs “Suggesting” Feature = Word’s Tracked Changes

If you’re reviewing a document and want to suggest changing some text, you can suggest edits to the owner of the document without affecting the original text. Your suggestions won’t change the original text until the document owner approves them. Once you are in Suggesting mode, you just need to start typing to begin suggesting edits.  Here is how it works:

  1. In the top right corner of the document, if you have editing privileges, change the mode to “Suggesting” mode
    Google Suggesting Mode
  2. To suggest an edit, simply begin typing where you think the edit should be made in the document. You can also select text and type alternative text to suggest replacing the original.Google Suggestions
  3. Your suggestions will appear in a new color and any text you suggest deleting or replacing will be crossed out.
  4. Owners of the documents will receive an email with your suggestions and be able to accept or reject them by clicking the “X” to reject or the checkmark to accept.

 Differentiating “Comments” and “Suggested Edits”

Comments Suggested Edits
Instructions Click the Comment button in the toolbar Switch to Suggesting mode in the top-right
Use Cases Ask a question or make a note next to a specific section of existing text Suggest new text that you recommend adding or changing in the document
Next Steps Owners can reply to your question or note, or click Resolve to close the comment Owners can accept your suggestions to add as final text or reject the suggestions to erase them

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