Technology showcase provides teachers with new learning tools
The Press of Atlantic City
May 9, 2001

By DIANE D’AMICO
Education Writer, (609) 272-7241

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Eileen Verde knows that standing in front of a classroom and lecturing is just not going to make it with today’s high school students.

“These are TV kids,” said Verde, an Ocean County Vocational-Technical School math teacher. “If you want to keep their attention, lessons have to be fun.”

That means using technology to catch their interest and giving them lots of practical problems they can relate to.

“When we use computers, the students get the concepts faster,” Verde said. “And once they get it, they’re more willing to put the time in to practice.”

Which is why Verde was among about 200 teachers from southern New Jersey attending Tuesday’s regional technology showcase for math and science.

Its purpose was to share successful programs that teachers are using to meet the state standards in math and science.

“We want to make sure technology is being used on the local school level,” said Julia Stapleton, Director of Technology for the New Jersey Department of Education.

Preliminary results from the state’s 2000 technology survey show that almost 72 percent of public schools have Internet connections in the classroom, and the ratio of students to computers is 5 to 1.

But only 10 percent of the schools report that the majority of students use the Web on a regular basis, and 30 percent of teachers are still at the beginner’s level in using technology.

“Our challenge is not just to get the equipment, but to have teachers who know how to use it,” said Deborah Cook, project director for the New Jersey Statewide Systemic Initiative, or SSI, at Rutgers University, which is helping promote initiatives that meet the state standards.

The SSI coordinated the workshop with the Atlantic County Educational Technology Training Center at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.

Teachers spent the day listening to other teachers talk about projects that used programs like Excel and Power Point, as well as computerized microscopes, digital cameras, graphing calculators and Geometer’s Sketchpad. Company representatives were on hand to show how their products work.

“I would have loved to have that microscope when we did a fingerprinting project,” said Egg Harbor City teacher Thomas Culleny.

The Rittenberg School where Culleny teaches is pretty technologically advanced, he said, and he and co-worker Scott Magann were looking for interactive projects they could bring back to share with both students and staff.

“Technology is a way to reach more students,” Culleny said.

Last week, the state DOE also announced its first Technology Fellowships, which will allow 20 teachers to take a year off to travel around the state and share their projects with other teachers.