Dell Giving – School Modernization Initiative 2014-2015

telegraph

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Nashua elementary students take on modern software, technology

By TINA FORBES

Staff Writer

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NASHUA – Nashua elementary students got a taste for careers in software and technology after a community partnership provided the funding and tools to help them design video games, create stop-animation shorts and write a podcast.

The training was organized through the Nashua School District’s partnership with Dell in Nashua and Digital Wish, a Vermont-based nonprofit company that supports technology in schools.

“Partnerships in education are necessary,” Eric Bird, project director for Digital Wish, said while in Nashua. “In introducing students to new career paths, we have started a lifelong change.”

Bicentennial and Amherst Street elementary schools had trainings in the past, and this year the program took up residence in fourth- and fifth-grade classes at Mount Pleasant Elementary School.

Mount Pleasant students visited Dell on Wednesday to show off what they learned to an audience of school officials, Dell employees and representatives from the offices of U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen, as well as Rep. Ann Kuster.

“It’s wonderful,” Mount Pleasant paraeducator Darlene Ledoux said. “The children are like sponges. They’re very excited to learn.”

Colin Holbrook, a 10-year-old student from the school, said the stop-motion project was his favorite.

“We learned how to take pictures for the stop-motion video and to not make it look like things were teleporting,” Colin said.

Much of the software and technology training wouldn’t be out of place in some college courses, but most students seemed to handle it with ease.

“You guys know more about computers than your parents in many cases,” Nashua Dell Executive Peter Thompson told students. “You’re all part of bringing technology into your homes and communities.”

Bird said Digital Wish has been involved in the Nashua community for four years, and hopes to reach each elementary school.

As part of the Dell grant and Digital Wish partnership, Mount Pleasant students received 25 Dell computers, software and a year’s worth of training for students and teachers, including after-school programs.

Students demonstrated original work in PowerPoint, Prezi and Audacity programs.

Prezi, a cloud-based presentation software program, is similar to PowerPoint in function, but uses alternative layouts and transitions versus the traditional slide setup.

“This type of program, being incredibly interactive, really grabs students’ attention,” said Bird, who said students picked up aspects of the program he didn’t teach them.

“They’re figuring out stuff I didn’t know.”

Superintendent Mark Conrad praised the partnership with Dell and Digital Wish, and told students he might be interested in Prezi training from them to liven up his PowerPoint presentations.

Mount Pleasant fifth-grade teacher Susan Porter said teaching technology enhances the curriculum instead of distracting from it.

“A lot of the prospects of the program are really in line with the Common Core standards,” Porter said. “It dovetails with the Common Core standards in a really fun way.” P4070359 - Final

For instance, she said learning to synthesize and present data using digital media is one of the concepts students are expected to grasp under Common Core. Students also learn to safely navigate the digital world by being a good cyber citizen, such as following plagiarism and copyright rules and anti-cyberbullying tactics.

“It’s not about the software; it’s really about the teaching,” Conrad said.

Porter said the partnership with Dell and Digital Wish gave students opportunities they wouldn’t normally have.

“It’s been great,” she said. “I hope they come back.”

“It’s a great experience for all of us,” said Meena Durairaj, a Dell program manager who helped teach students about the company.

Conrad and Bird said they plan to continue the partnership between the Nashua School District, Dell and Digital Wish.

Tina Forbes can be reached at 594-6402, tforbes@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_TinaF.

Contact Digital Wish: jennifer.miller@digitalwish.org 866-344-7758  www.digitalwish.org

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