Edgard students keep up with the times

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 10, 2010

By David Vitrano


EDGARD – The first digital media students at West St. John High School have completed the course, and a new wave have taken their place as the school continues its mission of producing tech-savvy graduates.

The class, which meets five days a week from 7:20 until 9 a.m., takes a significant amount of effort from the students enrolled. But what they come away with is invaluable.

“They’re able to have many different types of computer skills,” said Shayla Guidry, master technology teacher for the two west bank schools in St. John the Baptist Parish. According to Guidry, the students also develop their higher order thinking skills by taking the content they are given and using their creativity to transform the raw material into interesting and cohesive projects.

Much of the class itself is spent producing a daily, morning news show for the school. The students get a chance to try out all the different jobs involved in creating the show before applying for a permanent position. The class this semester will build on the work done by last semester’s class. “We’re trying to add more advanced graphics to it now,” said Guidry.

In addition to the morning show, the class also produces some extra videos for events such as Black History Month and the Teacher of the Year. Furthermore, they enter various contests.

“I think it’s helping us to grow,” said Guidry. “We’re learning as we enter.”

Right now students are working on a video to promote Kidfit, a program that encourages physical fitness for children.

In one contest held in December for the Louisiana Association of Computer Using Teachers, the middle school students from West St. John Elementary won with a video called “No Way Out” about the struggle to get back the Reserve-Edgard Ferry. At the same conference, Guidry was named secondary teacher of the year.

“I think we’re getting a lot better. The more we learn, the more we can add to it. I have a really creative bunch. They take an idea and run with it,” Guidry noted.

In addition to the digital media class, the presence of such advanced technology is transforming classes throughout both schools.

Video conferencing has become a regular feature. Last week when schools across the nation participated in Read Across America, students at West St. John Elementary truly got into the spirit of the day by sharing their activities with a class in Louisville, Ky.

The iMacs have also enhanced the project-based learning classes at West St. John High. Students in James Kline’s class were able to create podcasts and videos, a far cry from the poster board projects of yore.

The school district has been instrumental in pushing for the advancement of technology in the parish. Right now, the office is working to secure Macbooks for each English/ Language Arts student in the parish. Professional development for teachers to learn how to use the laptops is part of the package.

According to Guidry, all the new technology is nice, but it is meaningless if the students don’t walk away from using it better prepared for life in the real world.

“I think we’re headed in the right direction,” she said.