Scholarship Essay - Get Connected to Education

The following is a guest post by Samantha Forte.  Samantha is a senior at Waldwick High School who is a finalists in a national scholarship contest sponsored by . I was so proud of her essay I wanted to share it with everyone in the Waldwick community as well as my PLN.   I hope you find sometime to vote for her.  This is being posted with her permission.  

*To vote for her Essay go to:  Her essay is titled "Get Connected to Education"

Get Connected to Education

Every student is a wealth of knowledge, fervently waiting to grow and be harvested, each with the individual need to be nurtured to his or her fullest potential. But just as the conditions for sewing seeds evolve over time, so does the pedigree of our educational system. Traditionally, high school curriculums have their roots in wordy textbooks, monotonous lectures, and mind-numbing tests and quizzes; however as time progresses and technology advances, students are becoming more distant from and indifferent to archaic classroom life. Simply put, they have become bored with learning.

The problem lies within the fact that there is little interaction or connection between teenagers and the material they study. We are living in a digital era, yet not enough high schools have embraced the technological takeover. Rather, schools have reacted disapprovingly, restricting web access and banishing all cell phones instead of embracing positive changes that could result from their use. Administrators should realize they are being given a valuable learning tool to better prepare their students for a bright future, and can actually provide students with an immersive educational experience by incorporating technology in the classroom.

About four years ago, my high school underwent a significant change when a new principal took office. He was a strong advocate for digital media, urging teachers to integrate it with their daily lesson plans. In no time, our school was readily equipped with SmartBoards, ELMO Projectors, and other interactive media resources, which easily allowed for advances in instruction strategies. Select students were granted permission to access social networking sites such as YouTube and Facebook for special projects. The most significant change, however, took place when he decided to implement a new cell phone policy, allowing students to freely use their mobile devices in the classroom upon teacher discretion. The policy was welcomed optimistically by administrators and parents, and triggered a positive reaction from students as well. Now, teachers see the phones as an advantage; in class the phones can be used for polls, as buzzers in trivia review games, and can even alert students of upcoming due dates and quizzes. Learning became exciting again, and our school became a model for surrounding districts that began developing policies of their own.

Just as area high schools saw how successful our programs were, other institutions across the country can also learn from each other, observing how to integrate technology in new and creative ways to benefit their students. While having gadgets like SmartBoards and iPads readily available in classrooms is an ideal convenience, many schools argue that it is a huge financial investment, too much of a burden for their budget to handle. Yes, technology can be pricey; nonetheless, there are other ways to use it in frugal manners. The Internet is a cost effective and innovative way for teachers to have students use interactive media. Hundreds of websites such as Prezi and Glogster offer free programs that create interactive posters and presentations, and sites like Edmodo and Wikispaces allow students to continue class discussions with their peers at home. Even something as basic as a school Facebook page can update students, parents, and staff alike about events happening in the district. These websites are merely the keys for unlocking hundreds of other educational opportunities through various media outlets.

To vote for her Essay go to:  Her essay is titled "Get Connected to Education"