Sparta School District Hosts Tech Night: Sharing Tech Tools for Learners

SPARTA, NJ- The Sparta school district’s Special Education department held a technology night for students with disabilities.  Director Danielle Hamblin, together with Special Education Parent Advisory Group Co-chairwomen Mary Lynn Komar and Melissa Do coordinated the evening that took place in the Sparta High media center.

The evening centered around four stations for parents to learn about different technology tools for their students.

Alpine teacher Stephanie Dykes facilitated a group on Seesaw, a “social media like tool” according to Hamblin.  It is useful for allowing students to share their work and interact with each other.

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“It was awesome to be able to comment on one another’s poste which were either audio, written or pictorial,” a parent said.

From the Sparta Middle School, teacher Katie Nieves did a show and tell on a “myriad of apps, extensions and add-ons” Hamblin said.  The participants at Nieves’ table had the opportunity to try the tools for themselves.

“We were able to trial VeritySpell to educate us on those commonly confused words such as affect and effect,” Hamblin said.  “We also got to use speech tools such as SpeakIt! and accessibility tools such as the OpenDyslexic font.”

The time parents had to spend with Nieves was not enough to get through all of her information, so she provided a handout for parents to try them out at home.

Lia Tirpack and Theresa Gleason, also from the middle school, presented Quizlet and Quizizz activities. 

“It was amazing to see how in live tome they utilize technology to collect formative assessment on each of their students,” Hamblin said.  “We were able to engage in some of the highly motivating games.”

Melissa Roome a Sparta Middle School teacher presented an overview of ReadWorks, NewsELA and CommonLit. 

“I watched as she adjusted the lixile level and provided accessibility to all learners for non-fiction topics and classroom text,” Hamblin said.

The presenters were able to tailor their presentation to the group of parents, community members from local non-profit schools and the district staff members Christine Pokrywa, Gerry Carter, Karen Wright and Pam Steel.

Hamblin said Rach Bonnema was instrumental in the success of the evening.  Bonnema set up the chromebooks with the presenters’ tools, apps and programs for the participants.

Several parents shared compliments about the event.

“I am excited that these tools are inclusive to the general population,” a parent said. “I can’t wait to start using them.”

“Lots of great information,” a parent said. “I learned new tools that I can use with my students.  Talented staff.”

“I found the apps for the chromebooks very helpful,” a parent said.  “The study aides quizlet is great way to help my kids.”

Another parent said, “I learned new sites to help my son learn things at school.  I am really excited to try them with him and engage him in new ways.  It’s a great way to make education fun.  I had never heard of them before, so this was a great education for me.”

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