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Plugged in vs. unplugged

Teachers weigh in on technology

Junior+Haylee+Leatherbarrow+discusses+a+writing+assignment+with+Mr.+Jarzynski%2C+English+teacher.+Mr.+J+says+this+is+his+favorite+part+of+teaching.+You+be+the+judge.
Junior Haylee Leatherbarrow discusses a writing assignment with Mr. Jarzynski, English teacher. Mr. J says this is his favorite part of teaching. You be the judge.

Junior Haylee Leatherbarrow discusses a writing assignment with Mr. Jarzynski, English teacher. Mr. J says this is his favorite part of teaching. You be the judge.

Mrs. Giancola

Mrs. Giancola

Junior Haylee Leatherbarrow discusses a writing assignment with Mr. Jarzynski, English teacher. Mr. J says this is his favorite part of teaching. You be the judge.

Emily Jemiolo, Staff Writer

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We all love technology, which brings us to this key question: how much technology should be used in classrooms? The answer differs, depending on the teacher.

Mr. Jarzynski, English teacher, said that as great as technology can be, there is no substitute for face-to-face interactions with students. “My best moments are not with technology. My best moments are sitting with students with a piece of paper, pen in hand, helping them write.”

Mr. Jarzynski pointed out the downsides of technology. He said that there is ten times more technology now, than there was back in his earlier years of teaching, and it takes more time to explore it. Mr. Jarzynski explained that technology takes time away from reading, however even when we are reading, we are all waiting for a text or a message.

Mr. Jarzynski also added that he’s one of those people that still likes to read the newspaper. He explained how he enjoys the feeling of reading the paper on a Sunday morning. He said he feels that with all of this technology, the newspaper will eventually go away a few years down the line.

Mr. Jarzynski said you need to embrace the technology we have, but it’s difficult to keep up with the students.

“I miss the days before Google. Teachers used to be the source of information, now we direct them to a source.”

Mr. Jarzynski also added that overall teaching isn’t easier, it’s just different.

The skills that students need to learn transcend time, according to Mr. Jarzynski. “We are training students for jobs that don’t exist yet. They have to be able to read, write, and work with others who are not like them.”

Mr. Ratel, social studies teacher, also shared his views on technology. He said, in general, teaching with more technology is better because students have access to online resources and have a way of directly contacting their teachers.

Mr.Ratel described the changes in students before and after the social media revolution. “Students do not seem to be as obsessed with Facebook as they were a few years ago. Honestly, I cannot keep up with all of the social media apps. I still don’t know how Snap Chat works. I haven’t noticed a large change in their attention spans.”

Mr. Ratel also explained the greatest challenge he faces with respect to using technology. He said that students can be academically lazy and simply “Google” the answers to test questions now.

“Reading the top Web site on a topic doesn’t provide an in-depth analysis to most questions. This is besides the obvious distraction that smart phones can cause to a class room or meeting,” he said.

Mr.Ratel said he couldn’t think of an old school method that he prefers, and that he doesn’t even have chalk in his room.

Mrs. Propp, English teacher, is another educator trying to balance technology with teaching. She said that teaching is different because we have more to offer through our lessons with technology.

“Kids are certainly very distracted by social media and their phones tug at their attention continuously,” she said.

Mrs. Propp added that challenges for her would be ways to incorporate the use of technology into lessons, taking the time to scour the Internet for great ideas, and being able to evaluate and decide what to use and what not to use.

“This is always in the back of my head, especially during the research paper unit. There is a constant push to make sure students evaluate what they are reading and seeing on the Internet. All of it is NOT valuable or truthful,” she pointed out.

She said that old school discussions are her favorite. She explained that she finds kids are not always able to back up why they feel/think the way they do. She said that old school essays are important, especially for those moving on to college; that it is a necessity.

Mrs. Dempsey, Spanish teacher, is a big fan of technology. “Teaching is different with technology as we have many more resources at our fingertips. Computers make it easy for teachers to share materials and ideas.”

She said that students are much more socially aware of what is going on, and that it means she has to work harder to keep their attention.

She also added that the greatest challenge with technology is that it often breaks down. She said that one must be able to think on the fly if your Smart Board is not working or if the Internet goes down.

“I still like to read novels old school. Nothing beats having face-to-face conversations. Teaching is and hopefully will continue to be a very personal experience.”

No doubt, technology is an important part of the learning experience. Based on these teachers’ responses, the most important computer is the one in our brain.

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Plugged in vs. unplugged