Voorhees students show off their tech skills

The Voorhees Board of Education took in a skit and demonstration about technology in the classroom at a recent meeting.

Students from several different grade levels showed the audience how to us touch technology on smart phones and tablets.

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Leta Strain, enrichment specialist in the Voorhees school district, said the demonstration was called “Kindergarten 2015” because a 2-year-old was shown using touch technology. The child scrolled through 66 applications (called apps) and found a movie to play.

“Our message was to show that children are at home using this touch pad technology now,” Strain said. “So what are we going to do in three years when they come here?”

She said technology has opened up all kinds of opportunities for teachers.

“With the amount of resources and exciting and intriguing and motivating resources to get students to study, to research, to really go way beyond just a textbook or a movie or a film strip” is remarkable, she said.

“It gives them so many more capabilities,” Strain said, noting students can listen to music while researching.

Also, with the Internet, students need to discern which information is useful and which is not.

“I think they’re becoming much better thinkers” because students are able to determine what is useful and valid information and what is not, she said. “You really have to have a no fear attitude as far as teaching in today’s world.”

At 57, Strain called the current students “digital natives” because using technology is second nature to them.

“I think it’s going to be a challenge to provide this cutting edge technology to our students everywhere,” she said, adding that parents and the school board stay on top of what students need.

A fourth grade teacher for seven years, Natalie Medolla thinks the district has just scratched the surface of what technology has to offer in the classroom.

“It allows to differentiate instruction, it allows for enrichment as well as remediation,” Medolla said. “It allows students to take more ownership of their learning, [and] allows them to be more resourceful.”

While students have information at their fingertips, teachers should guide them, she said, help them process the flood of information they discover.

Medolla also said technology helps level the playing field for all learners.

And, she said, students are helping teachers with technology, creating a co-teaching learning experience.

Andrea Storey, a special education teacher for 17 years, also said technology has enhanced the learning experience.

Some students with physical disabilities can write for the first time.

Storey said technology helps foster independence and helps kids stay more focused.

“It’s a total self esteem booster,” she said.

Osage Elementary School Principal Robert Cranmer said that, while he sees all the advantages that technology has to offer, like online attendance and grading, he thinks there should be a balance with traditional practices like penmanship and reading physical books. It’s a balance that he believes the district does well.

While most families in the district have access to technology, some don’t and those children are steered to the public library or to the schools. Also, the schools provide hard copies to those students who need them.

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