Welcome to Computers and Technology
I am Nancy Jane Sevitz-Poarch, and I am the Technology Coordinator at St. Mary, Star of the Sea School. I teach Kindergarten through Eighth Grade Computers and Technology, and serve as the Network Administrator for the school.
I majored in Marine Biology, and minored in Geology at Occidental College, but computers were always a tool in my toolbox. My first job after college was working for Southern California Edison in Research and Development. Once out in the workforce, I used computers in my day-to-day job, and have worked with computers ever since 1980! I have developed programs on mainframes, including creating database-user interfaces, financial models for the renewable and alternative energy arena, countless report models, transitioned a Fortune 500 company into the desktop era, and have been a network administrator for small businesses (50-100 employees) for over 10 years. I am also a published Researcher and published Editor of financial technology journals.
Since I have an extensive background in industry, I feel it is important to continually adjust the tools we use in class so that our students have been introduced to software and ideas that will hone their technological skills and give them an advantage in their future.
I am a proponent of cross curricular education and project based learning. I love working with other teachers to incorporate what they are teaching in class with a project the students can complete in Computer Class. This approach makes technology more tangible.
Cyber safety is extremely important! All grade levels learn about what it takes to be safe on the internet. I take every precaution to keep our students safe as they “cerf the web” by empowering them with knowledge of safe internet practices. (The modern term “surfing the web” came from one of the internet pioneers, Vinton Cerf.) Internet and computer history is also covered in class. The information is tailored to each grade level.
Keyboarding is an important skill for students to learn. It facilitates many tasks done on the computer. Students learn proper keyboarding skills in class, but I strongly encourage students to practice keyboarding at home as often as they can. We use Rapid Typing in class, and it can be downloaded for free at home. There are several other links to online typing programs on class pages.
Visual and spatial acuity is developed by a number of computer programs that we use in our classes. Google SketchUp, a CAD type program, is just one of those programs used in the upper grades. The modified version of Minecraft employed in the lab also aides in these developments. Additionally, it helps develop critical thinking skills. Minecraft is a collaborative software program that uses a two-dimensional surface (the monitor) to represent a three-dimensional world. Being able to navigate through the world is a skill that can translate to and be crucial in many adult careers such as microscopic surgery and piloting drones. Experimentation with basic electrical circuitry can be done with Minecraft. These programs are introduced in Second Grade and curriculum is expanded as the students progress. In class we spend only a short time on Minecraft, but many students utilize recess and lunch to further their learning.
Kindergarten through Second Grade:
Research suggests that younger children exposed to computer programs that reinforce major educational activities have greater educational gains than children not exposed to computers. For example, we use an online reading program called Raz-Kids. Each student logs on to their own session of this reading program and they work at their own speed. They not only can improve their reading skills, but can also master mouse skills! This program can also be accessed and used at home. For Kindergartners and early elementary students, the benefits of computers include improved motor skills, increased math skills, increased creativity, structural knowledge, and an increase in long-term memory! Skills that Kindergarteners and First Graders need to master in class are few, but extremely important. Mastering mouse skills, understanding and using program tool bars, and mastering the login process to their individual profile on our server are among the curriculum requirements. In addition to these skills, Second Graders are introduced to “Power Point Style” Presentations and Computer Animation.
Third through Fifth Grade:
Practicing and honing computer skills learned in previous years, coupled with additional skills are presented throughout the student’s time at St. Mary’s. Students will see gains in areas such as: intelligence, nonverbal skills, structural knowledge, long-term memory, manual dexterity, verbal skills, problem solving, abstraction and conceptual skills. A more comprehensive knowledge of “MS Office Suite Style” programs is introduced. (we use LibreOffice Suite) Students prepare computer presentations, and share them with their classmates. This is a safe environment to embark in public speaking! Introductory work begins in Google Sketchup, animation programs, and importing templates into word processing programs. Fifth graders get a taste of the power of a spreadsheet and how charts can be made and graphing accomplished.
Sixth through Eighth Grade:
Our students are challenged to further their knowledge and abilities with all computers programs. Students in middle school are encouraged to use abstract thinking strategies to process and generate information. Cogent thinking is developed through the use of additional programs and developed skills. HTML coding is introduced, photo-editing is explored using Paint.Net, and language and typing skills are furthered with our word processing program, LibreOffice Text. Additionally, speadsheets and databases are introduced.
My computer lab is open to students during recess, lunch, and after school with Star Care. Students can work on homework, finish projects for other classes, and explore technology learned in my class.
You are welcome any time to tour, visit, or peruse your child’s work!
Nancy Jane Sevitz-Poarch
Contact me via email: npoarch at stmarystars dot com