Back to School 2016

World of Opportunities Await Students, Schools/Academies

(Photo: St. Bernard Catholic Academy)

Dr. Elizabeth Frangella

Technology has greatly impacted how we approach education in the Catholic schools and academies in the Diocese of Brooklyn. Schools have been given wonderful opportunities through programs for learning, professional development and the expansion of hardware, wiring and wireless access.

These advancements have come about as a result of the tremendous generosity of the Catholic Telemedia Network (CTN), Title funding and generous donors. The 2016-2017 academic year will be filled with new and innovative lessons and a world of opportunities.

Many students have textbooks on their devices, which lighten their backpacks. They can check homework and send messages to teachers online after school, and parents can see their student grades in real time.

The world in which we live has changed, opening to us in more ways than ever before. Classes are more interactive and collaborative and students use touch screens, tablets, Chromebooks, laptops and other devices in the classroom and at home.

It is an amazing sight to see 4-year-old pre-K students sitting cross-legged on the floor of their classrooms scrolling through books on iPads.

Facing Challenges

This change brings many challenges to parents and teachers as they become more comfortable with technology in all that they do. Students produce videos, create their own books, save notes and collaborate on projects with Google Docs or other sites.

Interactive textbooks allow students to hear the speech of a person they are studying or watch a video of a critical time in history. Interactive TVs have replaced chalkboards. Students Skype, FaceTime or video conference with authors across the globe.

Learning Tools

Digital learning tools like Duolingo help students to learn foreign language. Students practice math, English, science and other skills at Khan Academy, Mathletics or Education City. Virtual museums allow students or even a family to take a tour. Visit the Smithsonian Institute online or visit Pope Francis at the Vatican by listening to his YouTube channel. Google Earth lets them visit Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel.

Parents and schools/academies partner together with and through technology to reach all students. We encourage parents to speak with their child about technology. Parents and children can take a trip to the New York Public Library or to the Library of Congress online where they can peek into history through audio, video or print. The best is yet to come as students will use all of these tools and expand their horizons.

Dr. Elizabeth Frangella is the associate superintendent for curriculum in the diocesan Office of the Superintendent-Catholic School Support Services.