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January 15, 2020 - 3:32pm

Technology increasingly integrated into classroom work at Batavia HS

posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, news, schools, education, batavia.

img_9020techinclass.jpg

Tech is increasingly part of the learning environment in City School classrooms and at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, two teachers -- Alexander Veltz, Social Studies (photo), and Andrew Kiebala, Math -- shared how they're using Chromebooks and Google classroom tools to aid in their instruction.

Their presentions came as part of the information technology review by Director of Technology Jeff McKinney.

Veltz shared how he can use Google tools to share assignments, worksheets, handouts, and ensure that not only are they available in the classroom, but students (and their guardians) have access to the material at home. The availability of the material is helping him meet the new demands for greater reading comprehension in state exams.

With the tools, students can answer questions and get immediate feedback on their responses. 

Another tool allows students to sort through documents, which is especially helpful for a project that requires them to write an essay based on pre-assigned material that they must study, find a common theme, and then organize in order to write the essay.

"There is a shift in New York State where it's less about retention and more about argumentation based on perspective and point of view," Veltz said. "Retention is a skill New York is moving away from."

Trustee Shawn Murphy, who teaches at Genesee Community College, asked if the use of the tools was taking away from classroom engagement. Veltz said not at all.

McKinney added, "We are not switching over to where kids just sit in front of a computer. That's not the intent at all."

Kiebala shared tools that students can use to study geometric properties. 

He also shared a program that allows students to work on quizzes that he guides from his own computer and see where they need help. He said the program allows students to ask questions and make observations that he can then share with the class. The process allows students who might normally be shy about raising their hands to contribute more readily to classroom learning.

"This is my favorite thing to do," Kiebala said. "It allows them to be independent and also allows me to have control, so it's the best of both worlds for a teacher."

Kiebala shared a study published by NPR that indicated most people in the work world don't spend a lot of time doing trigonometry or geometry but they do spend a lot of time working in Excel, so his statistics class is heavy into spreadsheets.

"I tell the class, 'this is what you're going to spend your time doing because this is what you're going to use,' " Kiebala said. "You don't have to do anything by hand anymore because you either have a calculator or a spreadsheet but you still need to know what the numbers mean."

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