Increasingly widespread use of technology makes computer classes a greater priority in public schools. Knowing how to use computer software, type quickly, and maneuver the Internet are necessary skills to be a successful student and eventually a desirable employee. McKay School alumna Janice Smith teaches elementary students these vital skills.
Janice graduated from BYU’s School of Education in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Since graduation she has worked as a part-time teacher at a private school teaching art classes and Spanish. She took time off teaching to be a full-time mother of seven. When her youngest started junior high, Janice started teaching again; she is now completing her sixth year teaching computer technology to Grades K–6 at Orem Elementary.
As technology has evolved, so have public school computer classes. Once classes focused on just a few computer programs; now they include a variety of software. “We create PowerPoint presentations, iMovie and iPhoto projects, and computer art and music projects,” Janice said.
Computer classes now incorporate subjects into the curriculum beyond the computer software. “We create scratch programming projects that allow students to utilize the scientific process to solve problems while learning basic programming skills,” Janice said. “We also do multiple kinds of writing projects, from persuasive essays using word processors to interactive stories using digital storytelling tools.”
In order to be effective, computer classes must adapt to advancing technology. For Janice, keeping up with technological changes is critical to her success as a computer teacher. “I take classes every year to keep up with the newest ideas related to teaching with technology,” Janice said. “I am continually learning new strategies in the classes for staying safe online, protecting information and online reputations, understanding copyright issues, using cell phones, being web wise, and keeping up with continually changing technologies because . . . with new technologies come new problems as well.”
In addition to these new problems, new technologies also bring new benefits. “Learning programs have become a lot more interactive, engaging, sophisticated, and fun for students to use in the last few years,” Janice said. “These provide great tools to enhance the learning process, and they are wonderful for students with varied learning styles and learning disabilities.”
Janice and her husband, Frank, have seven children. The Smith family currently resides in Orem, Utah.