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Nazareth Intermediate Students Show Digital Prowess

Nazareth Area Intermediate students brought home first-place honors from a statewide digital book report contest. The contest was hosted by Colonial Intermediate Unit 20.

For the second straight year, Nazareth Area Intermediate students are champions in the ever-evolving digital world.

And the winners are also making a case for “girl power.”

Two groups – one with three girls and the other with four – brought home first-place honors from a statewide digital book report contest. The contest was hosted by Colonial Intermediate Unit 20.

The group that created the video for the book “Things Not Seen” consisted of Jane Wang, Trishya Pagadala and Katie Kendrick.

The focus is on an unpopular 15-year-old boy who, in a plot twist similar to the famous Franz Kafka story of a man transformed into a giant bug, wakes up to find that he is invisible, thanks to an electric blanket.

The group that created the video for the book “Hatchet” consisted of Kate Joseph, Mya Karvan, Elizabeth Pogodzinski and Ava Murphy.

In this story, a 13-year-old boy survives a plane crash but is left to fend for himself in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but a tattered windbreaker and a hatchet.

The students were honored at a recent school board meeting and their videos were shown. Also shown was a collaborative video in which the two groups of girls were joined by two boys -- news-like “anchors” Andrew Talarico and Andrew Cerniglia, both sixth-graders.

The boys already are famous in their own way. They are the producers of the intermediate school’s daily news show.

Last year, intermediate school students won first-place, second-place and third-place honors at the digital contest. And Melissa Whitman, technology integration specialist for the intermediate and Bushkill Elementary schools, is hoping for a “three-peat” next year.

”We plan to keep up the streak,” Whitman said in an email. “I feel good about how we provide the professional development to the teachers, the support for the students as they work in their groups.

”It is a whole building, including [the] district using the other technology specialists to support teachers, to make this project work,” Whitman continued. “We meet one on one with groups to help them, we provide mini-lessons, we give them motivation and excitement, and not to mention they are using technology – which they love!”

Whitman said Katie Trach was the teacher guiding both winning groups, adding that all fifth- and sixth-grade teachers participated.

According to information provided by Whitman, state education officials connect the digital book reports to the state's “common core” standards. They include requirements for students to present ideas with “multimedia components” (graphics and sound) and visual displays.

”The focus of the project is to help teachers embrace the PA common core standards and learn how to use and implement them in the classroom,” Whitman said.

She said teachers took 12 hours of after-school training to learn technology tools “so they could help the students use technology to create a digital story.”

At a recent school board meeting, the winning students were introduced by intermediate school principal Joseph Yanek.

After the videos were shown, the students and Yanek used a simple declaration to remind everyone that although the world is becoming more digital, the printed page is not a total dinosaur.

When board vice president Linda McDonald asked if the students would reveal the stories’ outcomes, they declared – with Yanek’s help – “READ THE BOOK.”

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