Student Journalists Rock Education Conference in New Jersey

Student Journalists Rock Education Conference in New Jersey

PV Smoke Signal Reporters / Mary Jo Madda

Hundreds of voices. A US Senator beaming in by video. Deadline pressure. And two teams of high school journalists, equipped with paper, pens and devices, there to capture it all.  

At EdSurge's TriState Summit on Friday, more than 425 leading administrators and teacher leaders from New Jersey, New York and Connecticut gathered to explore how technology can be used collaboratively to support education. The superintendents, directors of curriculum and technology, principals and teacher tech leads met, debated and shared; all the while, student journalists from Pascack Valley High School's school news organization, The Smoke Signal, and Pascack Hills High School's The Trailblazer provided thoughtful and nicely complementary coverage. 

Here's what they produced: 

The five student journalists from The Smoke Signal deftly switched between different media types, from Twitter (@pvsmokesignal), Snapchat (pvsmokesignal), Instagram (prsmokesignal) to their website, The Smoke Signal.

They had done their prep days before, reaching out to interview teachers who were planning to take part in the conference.

“The toughest thing is to find technology to meet specific needs,” Pascack Valley English teacher Matt Morone told staff writer Evan Jones. “Since we have been one of the more advanced districts, successes have shown that technology has aided students.”

On the day of the event, they had a game plan. 

Staff editors Kyle Comito and Vanessa Rutigliano dove into how Pascack Valley administrators felt about representing their district at the conference. "A lot of the school districts here came to learn about what we’re doing to get their programs started,”  PV principal Tom Demaio told the reporters. 

Photo editor Curstine Guevarra was on hand, capturing a series of photos of the educators who gave "ignite" talks about their practices. 

Evan Jones and staff editor Madison Gallo bagged an interview with a Turnitin executive, Melissa Perlman, who shared how her company is supporting students. 

Meanwhile in The Trailblazer (@PHHSTrailblazer), writer Jamie Spelling set up the paper's coverage by posing thoughtful questions in the overview session, "Technology in PVRHSD: Drawing a Line in the Sand."  Among the questions: What will become the "chalkboards" of the next generation? Will tech innovations stop? Should they?  

"Technology does, indeed, have its place in the classroom—we have seen its benefits first-hand. But we must be careful as to not infest the classroom with technology and rid school systems of their ultimate goal: prepare students to succeed in the world they will one day inherit," Spelling wrote. 

Trailblazer reporters then proceeded to capture—both in words and on video—highlights of the event, including familiar teachers sharing their expertise in technology on panels. 

Spelling asked, "What are you taking away from today for Harrington Park School District?" Answered Fried: "Today, we start the bigger conversation. Today, we lean in. We start to make technology a part of who we are as a culture."  

Certainly these student journalists all leaned in! 

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