Let’s face it technology has become a crucial part of our lives. I’m not just talking about the typical, “Hi, how are you?” texts you send to your mother on a daily basis, or the continuous Facebook chat you have going with your camp friend from California. From Smartboards in the classroom to online newspapers, technology has quickly invaded the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway (HAFTR) High School.
Even after school, I come home to multiple HAFTR emails; some are about reminders for upcoming events, such as coat drives, school games, or volunteer work, and others are about summaries of lessons or due dates for assignments. Even report cards were recently moved to online-only files! Most textbooks come with online video tutorial codes, and everyone is expected to be registered with either Edline.net or Edmodo.com, websites that quiz students regularly on vocabulary, provide personalized testing calendars, and list contact information for teachers. Technology is an integral part of the school day for both students and teachers.
My biblical literature class is based on videos narrated by Rabbi David Fohrman. After watching the block of videos on the Garden of Eden, teacher Sori Teitelbaum, had Rabbi Fohrman visit the class on Dec. 12 to answer questions. We were intrigued by Rabbi Fohrman’s superior wisdom and accuracy as well as his lengthy answers to our questions. He encouraged us to analyze the text in a new way and question everything, including the obvious.
The videos are designed to be entertaining, filled with graphics and real life analogies to hold the attention of students. “It was great to hear Rabbi Fohrman’s ideas even though he wasn’t there physically,” said junior Aliza Lifshitz. “It’s much easier to learn when it’s interactive.”
Teaching was also better using the videos, Teitelbaum said. “I truly enjoy teaching Rabbi Fohrman’s program and it is definitely a different experience using the video technology. It took some adjustment and flexibility on my part, but it was well worth it,” she said.
The videos encouraged our class to be technologically creative as well. A few weeks ago, Teitelbaum assigned groups of three girls to work on Glogs (online interactive posters) highlighting key concepts from the videos. “It was fun to see each group present their Glog. Each one was creative and original,” junior Renee Frenkel said.
After interviewing several students, I am confident in saying that new technology has been an overall boon to HAFTR High. Although school can be stressful, the easy accessibility of assignments and test dates through online programs help students organize themselves by getting ahead of their schedules. Students are fascinated by the attention-grabbing Smartboards, and many have better focus in class as a result.
Junior Yonina Keschner, like many students, believes technology is great as an in-class tool, however it should only be used at home as a supplement to the information taught in class. “I do not believe that Edline alone is a good way of informing students of upcoming events or information. Teachers should not fully rely on students remembering to check the website all the time to see the new updates,” Keschner said. “However, in situations where students are initially informed of the information, and then it is posted online, it can be a good system.”