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Hurrah for the students and teachers of Orange

  • Dexter Park Elementary School, on Monday, Feb. 19, 2018 in Orange. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

Published: 10/23/2018 2:04:57 PM
Modified: 10/23/2018 2:05:02 PM

Time to tip our hat to educators and students and their allies at Dexter Park School in Orange — again. Earlier this month, we reported about efforts to rebuild a music program at the elementary school level in the absence of direct taxpayer support. The grandparent of some Dexter Park students and her supporters have worked to provide after-school instruction to youngsters who are eager to learn to play instruments and to form a band even though there is no formal school music program. Scores of children are learning to play instruments in a band with the informal help of the Mahar music director and financial support from the community through the Orange Recreation Association.

It’s a pretty extraordinary endeavor that we hope will lead to reinstatement of a formal, town funded music program.

But now, we’ve learned that some of the teachers at Dexter Park and some of their tech savvy students were invited to participate at a special statewide computer education conference in Boston last week.

Christopher Dodge, who is principal at the The Dexter Park Innovation School, and several students from the school were scheduled to present at this year’s MassCUE conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro last Thursday. Their projects were included in the Student Showcase area of the conference, which is primarily for teachers who come together to expand how educators can use computer technology to enhance learning in our public schools.

The youngsters, who included grade 6 students Delana Fausett, Lily Mom-Uch, Priscilla Cruz, and Christiana Dunn, will be showing a 3D model of the school created with Tinkercad, a free program that bills itself as an easy-to-use app for 3D design, electronics learning, and computer coding. The students will also show off an interactive display they made of an Egyptian tomb.

MassCUE, which stands for Massachusetts Computer-Using Educators, is the state affiliate of the International Society for Technology in Education. This month MassCUE partnered with the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents to host New England’s premiere technology-in-education conference. The conference provided educators with two days of workshops and networking opportunities — and showed off student projects like the ones from Dexter Park that were enabled by tech-driven teaching.

This year, MassCUE’s annual conference had a record number of about 1,600 teachers and administrators attending. There were about 200 50-minute sessions where teachers shared best practices as well as some longer in-depth two-hour sessions. Also, more than 130 educational technology companies and 15 nonprofits were invited to show off their wares and promote the latest advances in hardware and software.

More importantly for the Dexter Park students, MassCUE has two student showcases, CUEKids and Global Ed Trekkers, sharing projects they have done in their classrooms. Students from more than 30 school systems across the state highlighted projects that focus on their connection with global education, and explained their high-quality projects that incorporate learning and technology.

The Orange students and their tech teachers deserve credit for their participation in this conference. The prospect of showcasing your work at such a gathering can motivate students to push beyond the norm. And attending such a conference can only further inspire and motivate them to keep forging ahead.

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