Teacher Uses Dell Camp Training to Better Communicate with Digital Natives

| January 20, 2011

Christine Horowitz shares what she learned at “Intel Teach – Developing 21st Century Skills in the Classroom” with students at Seton Catholic Central High School.

By Camille Muscatello

According to About.com, “Digital natives are people who have grown up in the digital world using technology as a way of communicating, recording, educating, and understanding society. Digital natives speak the language of technology and are as comfortable with technology as past generations have been with pen and paper.”

Teacher and Integrated Technology Specialist for the Southern Tier, Christine Horowitz is on a mission — to convert these digital natives, students, and their teachers in the Catholic schools into believers of integrating technology into core subject matter. In the summer of 2010, Horowitz attended a week-long seminar entitled “Intel Teach – Developing 21st Century Skills in the Classroom” funded by the Intel Corporation through the New York Institute of Technology, Islip, NY. Intel Corp is noted for its generosity in funding teacher training in the use of technology. The grant in total amounted to approximately
$19 million. The Intel® Teach Program improves teacher effectiveness through professional development, helping teachers integrate technology into their lessons and promoting students’ problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration skills.

The course Horowitz took had a STEM focus (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). The 15 participants used the week to learn techniques on how to integrate technology into core subject matter in a meaningful way by developing a unit plan. During the training, Horowitz created a Cold War unit appropriate for a joint 8th grade social studies/ELA (English Language Arts) effort, integrating Cold War material with current events. The lesson used Cold War ideology and events as a launching point for how political groups, local communities and individuals can be vehicles of change. Each student used an online application to create a comic book in which the super hero overcomes an obstacle in today’s society. Another lesson used music editing software in a 7th grade social studies class, where students produced songs from historical slogans, such as “Remember the Alamo,” “Hey, Hey LBJ” and “I am not a crook.” Students developed lyrics that contained facts surrounding the historical event, sang their created lyrics to karaoke versions of their favorite pop songs and merged their voices with the tunes using music editing software.

As a result of the seminar, Horowitz is now considered a master trainer, meaning it is her responsibility to train other teachers. In turn, these adult pupils will be expected to train others. Since her return, Horowitz has conducted workshops for teachers and staff, including an inservice at Seton Catholic Central High School, Binghamton, called, “Effectively Integrating Web 2.0 Applications into the Classroom” and a Google Tools Workshop at Seton Catholic at All Saints, Endicott. Daily, Horowitz can be found assisting various teachers with one-on-one training, as well as lending tech support to four school labs. Her favorite task, though, is engaging her students, who are forever hungry and enthusiastic for the creative learning that integrative technology allows.

Selection for Intel Camp participants was based on geographic location and the number of people each person could reach with the training. Horowitz services five schools, grades K through 12, teaching social studies, and acting as the system’s integrated technology specialist, as well.

“I think the skills I developed are going to be extremely beneficial to our teachers, as there is a push by everyone from the corporate world to the Armed Services. It is a goal of the Syracuse Diocese to make sure our teachers and staff are proficient in the technologies in which our students are so well-versed. We shouldn’t be competing with cell phones, iPods and virtual reality games. We should be embracing and using what is familiar to our students in order to reach them effectively. This course taught me how to be able to integrate technology, so that it’s engaging and prepares our students for the future.”

Camille Muscatello is on staff in the Alumni and Development Affairs Office of the Catholic Schools of Broome County.

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