Monday, March 1, 2010

What difference does 10 years make?

Published Monday, March 1, 2010

In school, students are taught that learning never stops.

There are always new lessons, new breakthroughs to absorb and comprehend.

The profession of education is very much the same.

In the past decade alone, teachers have seen drastic changes in their field, from their students’ personalities to trying to educate in the wake of the Standards of Learning testing.

While there have been many advancements in the education field during the past 10 years, some of Suffolk’s most veteran teachers point to one thing as the biggest and greatest change in the classroom: the role of technology.

“Technology, certainly, has to be at top of the list,” said Elaine Abernathy, a kindergarten teacher at Mount Zion Elementary School. Abernathy has been teaching for 34 years in Suffolk’s schools.

Personal computers were not new to the world in 2000, but the technology had not permeated far into the educational field. Today, computers are available for every student in the city. Course work and grade books are available online, and Internet research, multimedia capabilities and PowerPoint presentations are almost prerequisites in student projects.

Abernathy said the expansive role of technology goes hand in hand with a new generation that has been groomed with new technological advances.

“They are exposed to so many gadgets,” Abernathy said. “They just apply that same technology. They aren’t afraid to explore it. For children who are auditory or visual learners, it’s right there for them. It really addresses their needs and the way they learn.”

Deborah Luisi, a second-grade teacher at Kilby Shores Elementary School, agreed.

“As an ‘old-school’ teacher, it is thrilling for me to watch 7- and 8-year-old students engrossed in research, reading, math and many other educational avenues via technology,” she said.

Luisi, who has been teaching for 30 years — 27 of them in Suffolk, said it is not just the students who incorporate technology into the classroom.

Teachers also have been incorporating technology to create more efficient classrooms.

“We have programs in place which make our work (grading, assessments, reports — you name it) more accurate and expedient,” Luisi said. “Also, email puts us into immediate touch with co-workers as well as parents.”

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