Seventh-graders in honors earth science at J.W. Dodd Middle School in Freeport work...

Seventh-graders in honors earth science at J.W. Dodd Middle School in Freeport work on school-issued Chromebook laptops as teacher Vanessa Vidalon uses a SmartBoard during class on Nov. 1. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Newsday asked students highlighted in the LI Schools page "Way to Go!" feature to respond to this question: "What technology do you consider the most useful and productive to learning? Please give an example of how technology made a difference to you in a classroom setting or with a specific academic subject. In addition, what advice and/or caution do you have for other students regarding tech use?"

Sydney Salamy, 17, is a senior at East Hampton High...

Sydney Salamy, 17, is a senior at East Hampton High School. Credit: Patricia Fall Salamy

Sydney Salamy, 17

Senior, East Hampton High School

My high school issues a laptop to each student for the duration of their time there, ensuring that we all have equal access to information. The effects have been so significant that entire curriculums have been built around the assumption that each student can use their laptop. Students can now work on their computers during class, and those who may miss school can easily access their assignments online. Teachers can communicate with students using websites like Google Classroom to inform them of assignments or changes in schedules. It also facilitates collaborative working, since students can share documents on Google Drive and peer edit, or work in teams when competing in educational games. But while issuing laptops has been beneficial, it does come with some caveats. My generation spends the majority of free time on our devices, eyes glued to a screen — texting, playing games or watching videos. And now that same behavior continues in the classroom, our eyes glued to our laptops, while we listen to our teacher. So, while technology has made learning more efficient, it has significantly replaced the amount of time that we socially interact with others. Only time will tell what impact that will have on my generation as we become adults.

Quentin E. Palifka, 14, is a freshman at Rocky Point...

Quentin E. Palifka, 14, is a freshman at Rocky Point High School. Credit: The Palifka family

Quentin E. Palifka, 14

Freshman, Rocky Point High School

I feel one of the most useful technological resources that is used the most for academic purposes would be the computer. Among all of the subjects a student like myself studies in school, the computer has particularly helped me write many English and Social Studies essay reports correctly. It is an easy way to help correct any spelling or punctuation errors in a report or writing assignment. Computers have helped me do in-depth research at ease for when I need to look up factual evidence while writing and learning about a subject. The computer simply makes researching everything much faster and with ease. The computer can also help teachers grade essays or reports along with helping to make sure a student does not plagiarize.

Although the computer is one of the most useful technological creations of the 20th century, one thing students should always remember is that anything a person may write on the internet, social media or through texting has the ability to live on forever. Students should always think twice about what they write or post before they write it on the internet for the world to see. At the same time, it is important to recognize all the good that can come out of utilizing what computers can do for the world if one stays true to who they are and lives by a code of integrity.

Heather Millman, 17, is a senior at Commack High School.

Heather Millman, 17, is a senior at Commack High School. Credit: Cara Millman

Heather Millman, 17

Senior, Commack High School

The room is dark, the sun has set — all you want to do is curl up with your latest book. You could use a book light, but the shadowy effect wouldn't make it worth the trip out of bed. Instead, you use a Kindle or e-reader. Easily you can download the book you were previously reading and with the click of a button look up any unknown words. The internet browser can also help decipher any complex or old-fashioned language you'd like to analyze further. All at your leisure and the tips of your fingers.

That's why I find my Kindle so useful, especially when reading books for English, as classics need more time and effort to fully understand. It helps to look up whatever schoolbook I'm reading beforehand so I have some basic knowledge when going in. Even after class, rereading a passage or looking up specific words can truly increase comprehension.

While technology is quite useful in academics, it is also distracting. My advice is live in every moment; anything can change in a heartbeat. Yes, technology is nice and fancy and fun, but there's a whole wide world out there to grasp.

Daniel Flyer, 16

Junior, Roslyn High School

Technology has connected students in a way that was unimaginable 20 years ago. With the onset of the internet and social media, students have been able to easily and efficiently share ideas and ignite conversations in areas of academic importance. For example, with current internet accessibility, students can discuss possible solutions to assigned projects and study together for upcoming exams.

In addition, portable devices have made note taking exponentially easier in class. When I began to use my iPad to take notes, I was able to write down much more information in much less time. In the past, when I took handwritten notes, I found myself scrambling to keep up with the pace of the lecture. Constantly having to scribble out misspellings and take out new pieces of loose leaf made my note taking extremely inefficient.

However, for students taking notes on a tablet or laptop, there is always the risk of the technology serving as a distraction. Often I have found myself tempted to play games rather than to pay attention in class. So, I would advise anyone taking notes digitally in class to avoid distractions on their devices and to instead concentrate on the lecture, as it might be really important in the future.

Meredith Kass, 17

Senior, Kellenberg Memorial High School, Uniondale

At Kellenberg  . . . we use iPads in all of our classes. We take notes using a program called Notability, iBooks for our textbooks and eBackPack to track assignments and manage our class schedule. In my Latin class, we use a program called Quizlets to help us review for exams and to build our vocabulary. The iPad makes it really easy to communicate and share information with teachers and classmates. Technology is a terrific way of interacting with our environment and has been a positive experience for me in high school.

However, I think we have to remember the importance of face-to-face communication. Connecting with our peers in a real-life setting is still extremely important. Social media can sometimes provide a distorted view of the world. If we use iPads for most of the school day, then we need to turn them off so we can enjoy other school activities like sports and clubs. It's a great way to "give it a rest."

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