Over the past few months, my articles have focused on many of the component pieces that are part of the total educational program for our students. This month, I would like to focus on the important role that technology plays in the educational lives of our students. During a recent meeting with Judy LaRocca, our district’s Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Technology, we were marveling over the fact that 25 years ago, technology was just taking hold in our schools and now instruction can’t live without it. Throughout the classrooms, in all four of our elementary schools, teachers utilize their interactive SMARTBOARDS to provide digital content from textbooks, inter-active instructional activities and various computer-assisted software programs to supplement the excellent classroom lessons provided by our wonderful teaching staff. Our district utilizes a collection of research based software programs to expand student learning and provide additional instruction for students who need to continue to grasp content and skills after their first exposure and guided practice in their regular classrooms. Software programs such as Read 180, Systems 44, Power Reading Online (PRO), and FASTT Math all support students who need additional assistance in mastering basic skills.
Our technology that the district provides also allows connectivity around the world. Teachers and students have the capabilities to connect to famous people and authors to find out about their lives, motivations and struggles that they experienced in school. Recently, Mr. Contratti’s fourth grade class at Garden City Park School held a virtual conference with television actor and children’s author Henry Winkler. I was privileged to be present that day in the classroom and listened to Mr. Winkler share his struggles and triumphs as a student and an adult due to dyslexia. Students certainly realized that they too can be a success despite any learning problems they may face.
Various other technology tools such as IPads, digital cameras and word processors all help students to create research projects across the content areas citing primary and secondary source materials way beyond Wikipedia and Google. Digital content has allowed teachers to take virtual field trips to national museums, historical sights, and government buildings.
Life moves on beyond the wonderful Encyclopedia Britannica, which those of us over 50 years of age, used daily to do our research reports. Technology is alive and thriving in the classrooms of New Hyde Park-Garden City Park and under the guidance of our teachers propelling our students to academic excellence.