Tech savvy students | SierraSun.com

Tech savvy students

Christine Stanley
Sierra Sun
Ryan Salm/Sierra SunSixth frader Zak Pettit works on an i movie at Alder Creek Middle School on Thursday.
ALL |

Need tech support? Call a middle schooler.

Alder Creek Middle School has rushed with gusto into the world of tomorrow. No longer is technology seen as a stand-alone course where students learn speedy typing and Microsoft Word. Instead, computers, iPods, interactive whiteboards and DVD players have found a home in nearly every classroom.

North Tahoe Middle School has done much of the same.

“Twenty-first-century skills are huge,” said Rebecca Maas, the technology coach at Alder Creek Middle School. “We need to show them how to take this massive amount of information, figure out how to get what they need and find out if that information is real.”

To do that, both Alder Creek and North Tahoe middle schools have brought new equipment into classrooms that include portable carts containing entire class sets of laptops, whiteboards upon which digital images can be moved via touch, and portable workstations for teachers that include everything from speakers to projectors and DVD players.

At Alder Creek Middle School, Mass, who has been teaching computers skills in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District for 15 years, has gone from teaching a few kids how to type to coaching nearly every teacher on campus in technology integration.

“I’m learning as much as the kids are, if not more,” said Sandie Leatherman, a sixth grade teacher at Alder Creek. “The kids are excited, so the motivation is better.”

Students in Leatherman’s English classes recently learned to write poetry. Then Maas stepped in and together she and Leatherman are teaching dozens of students how to create computer-based videos that supplement their written words.

“We’re using iMovie to make a background movie for a poem we wrote. There are graphics and music that tell the mood of the poem,” said sixth grader Alex Kopytko.

When the students are done creating the visuals, they will present their poem to the class with their movie running simultaneously on the whiteboard behind them.

Students in other classes are learning how to record podcasts ” media files distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds ” of African history, and are creating Legomation (Lego animation) movies of Civil War reenactments, Maas said. Even the physical education classes are integrating technologies.

“It makes it more fun. We learn in different ways than just writing,” Kopytko said. “Plus, all this new technology will give us more possibilities, like job choices, when we grow up.”