Technology and Computing
Jolynn Sapia, Instructional Computer Director/Business Education Director
Information literacy, the ability to find, analyze, manage, present and share information as well as the ability to adapt rapidly to the changes brought about by the availability of information, is a critical skill for 21st century citizens. Students need to become skilled in the use of the range of technology resources they will encounter. These skills will not come from special computer classes or from drill and practice computer use, but through the full integration of technology in their education.
As 21st-century jobs become increasingly information based, workers need to:
- use multimedia tools to communicate and present ideas and concepts orally, in writing and online
- separate the important, relevant information from the vast mountain of information
- quickly learn specialized information in an ongoing fashion
- work effectively in physical and virtual groups
The district’s philosophy of integrating technology into the instructional program reflects these issues.
Integration of Technology into the Instructional Program
Half Hollow Hills shares the perspective of the New York State Education Department as presented in the Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Frameworks. Student abilities that reflect the district’s aims with regard to the use of technology as a tool within the various curriculum areas are:
- Students will have knowledge, skills and attitudes to pose questions, seek answers, and design solutions.
- Students will use a full range of information systems, including computers, to process information and to network with different school and community resources, such as libraries, people, museums, businesses and industries.
- Students will acquire the knowledge and skills related to the tools, materials, and processes of technology.
- Students will understand the relationships among various disciplines, identify and connect common themes, and apply these themes to other areas.
- Students will apply the knowledge and thinking skills of various disciplines to address real-life problems and make informed decisions.
In order to implement these standards, and to support the belief regarding the importance of computer technology the following hardware and infrastructure has been incorporated into the instructional program:
- To facilitate communication and access to information resources, an OC-3 fiber optic network connects all school buildings in a high speed Wide Area Network.
- Every classroom, kindergarten through fifth grade, is equipped with three computer workstations and a printer connected to the district's wide area network.
- Every secondary classroom contains a computer workstation connected to the district's wide area network.
- Each of the 11 schools in the district is equipped with a 28-station mobile wireless laptop lab.
- Each of the two middle schools and high schools contain two 28-station computer labs with color laser printers.
- Each of the two high schools also contain a mini lab with 14 computer stations.
- CD-burners, DVD-burners, color scanners, digital still cameras, and digital video cameras are available in every school.
- All libraries K-12 are fully automated and provide students and teachers access to a wealth of electronic resources.
- Card catalogs and circulation process are available electronically in the library as well as from every classroom within each school.
- All libraries have multiple computer workstations that provide students access to the Internet for research purposes as well as to their own personal documents.
Instructional Computing Technology Integration Plan
The overall purpose of the District Technology Plan is to assist in maximizing student achievement by providing students technology tools to support authentic learning experiences by enabling them to find analyze, manage, present, share information and construct new knowledge. Across all grade levels, access to technology allows for:
- differentiation of instruction
- student use of real-world tools
- increased collaboration among students
- student acquisition of visual and information literacy skills
- student acquisition of basic technology skills
- students engaging in higher order thinking activities
- student use of concept maps to help them organize, interpret and use information in new ways
- student use of collaborate tools to enable them to work with others to engage in exploration and solve problems
- student use of media tools to enable them to express their ideas in creative and engaging ways, allowing them to express processes and complex ideas more clearly and easily than they could with text alone.
Technology and Staff Development
The inservice program also reflects the philosophy of active participatory learning. Teachers are trained in the mechanics of using the hardware and software through the exploration of tools that enhance and expand the curriculum by including learner-centered, interdisciplinary, constructionist activities. All staff development sessions have been designed to serve as models for participatory learning. As learners, the teachers engage in activities that involve collaborative learning, discussion and independent research.
To assist teachers and administrators in expanding their skills and to further incorporate technology into the curriculum, intensive professional development workshops are held during the summer. A significant array of inservice courses in technology are offered throughout the year. In addition, teachers attend topic-specific workshop training sessions before and after the school day. All of these learning experiences incorporate current research based educational strategies regarding best practices of teaching and learning and applying technology tools and resources as appropriate to implement these practices to support curriculum.
In February 2005, Superintendent, Dr. Sheldon Karnilow, received the 2005 American Association of School Administrators President’s Technology Award. Recipients of this award are selected for their demonstrated vision and leadership in using technology to advance teaching, learning, and achievement based on the following criteria:
- Instructional Impact
- Staff Development to Support Technology Initiatives
- Innovative Use of Technology
- Ongoing Evaluation Mechanisms
- Leadership Promoting Long term Sustainability
- Technology Leadership Beyond the District
- Community Recognition and Communication
In February 2004, Dr. Sheldon Karnilow, was named one of ten school superintendents from across the United States to receive the esteemed Tech-Savvy Superintendent Award by eSchool News, the nation's only education technology newspaper. To win the award, each superintendent had to meet “The Ten Hallmarks of Excellence” criteria established by eSchool News editors and the newspaper's editorial Advisory committee. (See our website at http://www.halfhollowhills.k12.ny.us/page.cfm?p=601 for more information.)
The school district has twice been recognized by the Computerworld Honors Program, which “searches for and recognizes individuals [and organizations] who have demonstrated vision and leadership as they strive to use information technology in innovative ways.” In April 2000, the Half Hollow Hills School District was designated a Smithsonian Laureate for its contribution to the history of information technology for its partnership with Long Island University in the development of the Electronic Educational Village. The Half Hollow Hills School District and Long Island University's The Electronic Educational Village became part of the Permanent Research Collection on Information Technology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. In April 2001, the district was again recognized, this time for its program, A Technology Professional Development Plan that Empowers Teachers to Empower Students. This work became part of the Honors Archive on Information Technology that is now part of a collection of innovative applications of technology that is housed in the archival institutions of the Academic Council across the world.
Since 1996, the New York State Education Department Model School Program has recognized the district’s vision and philosophy by awarding 18 teachers competitive grants to aid in the integration of technology into the curriculum. Members of the professional staff have accepted invitations to present aspects of technology integration at many state and national conferences.