I had the last of my new classes today. I had 12-13 year olds working on presentations to give to the younger students about the upcoming food drive and the importance of giving to those less fortunate. These students were using computers to create Powerpoints and Prezis. Most teachers in BG aren't even aware of Prezi. I was amazed. And they are good presentations! So, out of the 13(I think) classes that I am in, 10 of them are working on some type of project with a presentation and written component. I have yet to see over 15 minutes of direct instruction.
The expectations of these students are different (what seems higher to me) than those I have experienced as a student and what I have observed in classroom. Overall, their ability to use computers is unbelievable. They are doing things that college students have trouble with. They are able to correctly and accurately use Excel. I can think of at least 10 students in my Research Methods class that couldn't use Excel. These students are able to find data on the internet, import it into Excel, and make bar/line charts with a double axis, WITHOUT HELP! I will brag that my Excel skills are being tested because I can't read the commands on the toolbar, so I am having to go completely off memory and what looks close. And I am okay with saying that I have been successful at every question asked of me. LOL
Granted, they have the resources that most schools in the US don't have. They have many mobile labs that the teachers will just wheel into the rooms. They have problems with the battery life but the computers are good dell laptops with up to date software. Most students have their own laptops, flashdrives that they carry around, iPads, etc. It makes me wonder what would be possible if our students had these resources. And let's not forget that these students are the best of the best and they are paying a lot of money to be at this private school. Nearly all will go on to achieve college degrees.
Interesting fact: Most teachers do not count tardies. If a child is late, so what. It is not seen as a big deal.