Tech lessons from tiny pros

HANALEI — A school cafeteria is normally used for students to eat or unwind between classes. But students at Hanalei School transformed their cafeteria into a place of learning Friday morning.

And this time, it was parents doing the learning.

Two students from each grade, kindergarten to sixth-grade, showed parents how they use technology in the classroom using laptops and iPads. From educational games to more complex word problems and even creating videos and editing pictures, the technology presented by kids impressed moms and dads.

“One thing that I thought was really neat was how the sixth-graders showed us how they can write an essay, and then the whole class can see it and edit,” said Scott Parker, father of first-grader Keira Parker. “I thought that was really cool.”

Parker was curious to see how young kids could yield this type of technology safely.

“For my wife and I, we don’t really like too much screen time,” Parker said. “We’re very leery of them getting addicted to screen time.”

But after seeing the presentations, Parker said he felt a little more at ease knowing that his child is not being exposed to everything technology has to offer.

“We’d like to know what’s going on since there’s computers and iPads with the kids, because we need to balance that kind of against the amount of screen time that we give them at home,” he said.

One of the presentations came from the fifth-grade booth, where students showed parents how they used a program called “Seesaw,” which allows them to create and edit videos and pictures.

“It’s kind of like a classroom-friendly YouTube,” said fifth-grader Javin Hennessy. “It’s a way to express your work in a class-based facility. It’s private. So if you didn’t want other parents to see your work, you can block it.”

Hennessy showed how it’s a user-friendly environment.

“It’s cool because other people can like your pictures and videos and comment on them, but nothing really bad happens on them because the teacher has to approve all the words that you post,” Hennessy said. “So there’s no cyberbullying.”

Each student at Hanalei School has their own individual device, thanks in part to generosity from the community.

“We had an anonymous donor who donated $48,000 to our school and that made it possible for us to give every student a device,” said Principal Taharaa Stein. “We were also awarded a professional technology training grant for our teachers of $20,000, and we have this year to try and spend it.”

Stein was hoping for a large turnout from parents on Friday, but there were only about 20.

“We need to get more parents here. I don’t know if we need to reach out or hold these at different times, because I really want the parents to see what we’re doing with technology and they can support their kids,” Stein said. “Because when the kids leave here, the learning has to keep going outside of school and we want the kids to be responsible outside of school using their devices. I just need more parents to hear this message.”

Stein hopes to hold another event like Friday’s presentation in the future.

“It’s super important because here on Kauai, geographically, we’re super isolated,” Stein said. “The experiences that they can have because of technology, it kind of opens the globe to them.”

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