Every day, Yehudis Fried sees how technology helps students harness their creativity and curiosity. One of Yehudis’ favorite parts of being a technology teacher at YDE in Brooklyn is watching young learners experiment and tinker with new technological platforms.
“I love interacting with students. They are smart and they are so excited,” she said. “Children are especially creative and innovative. I have successfully created a stimulating yet relaxed environment so that my students can learn to the best of their abilities.”
Yehudis’ career in technology started after she returned from studying in seminary in Switzerland and took a computer science course at New York University. Yehudis enjoyed the course, which eventually grew into a career as a senior systems analyst at The Bank of New York on Wall Street. Back then, she and her fellow programmers wrote programs on punch cards. They designed, tested and implemented systems to track the bank's corporate assets.
“I liked programming because it was intellectually challenging and provided instant results,” Yehudis said. “I loved that when you wrote a program, it did exactly what it was supposed to do, and created a solution to a problem.”
After having children, Yehudis transitioned to a career in education. For 25 years, she has introduced students to technology, preparing them for productive careers in business and education as personal computers conquered the office world.
With the growth of the internet and mobile computing, her field has widened to include all aspects of technology. Yehudis ensures that her students become adept at dealing with and mastering whatever opportunities technology will offer in the future.
For the past three years, Yehudis has taught at YDE where she works with students in grades 1-8 in the school’s girls division. At YDE, technology education is a core part of the student experience. While in the past, computer classes focused on learning particular programs such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop, there has been a shift to provide students with more fundamental computer skills such as coding and robotics.
Students learn coding through the Code.org curriculum. Each year, the school participates in the international Hour of Code. Yehudis has brought Scratch programming projects to the school. Students learn about robotics through projects with Edison robots.
“Coding teaches students understanding of sequencing skills, problem solving, logical thinking and cause and effect. The constant feedback provided by coding demonstrates to students how essential it is to organize their thoughts,” Yehudis explained.
In addition to gaining technical competence, Yehudis wants her students to learn about responsible digital citizenship skills and make smart choices. YDE students learn about digital citizenship through Common Sense’s Digital Citizenship curriculum.
This school year, Yehudis and her students have worked on technology projects that stretch across disciplines. Eighth-graders created business plans to sell a product and used iPads to create commercials about their business models. Third and fourth graders used PowerPoint to create presentations about states and countries with sophisticated animation and games. Classes are geared toward project based learning. Students learn how to use technology creatively and constructively within the context of the regular curriculum.
As the fields of technology and education have developed, Yehudis has made it a priority to grow as an educator. She has worked with her BetterLesson coach to ensure that her classroom environment empowers students to take ownership of their learning.
“I want my students to work independently in my classroom and have an increased sense of choice and voice in their education,” Yehudis said.
With the school year coming to a close, Yehudis has started thinking about the 2019-2020 school year. She hopes to add more elements to the 6-8th grade curriculum and start holding in-house professional development sessions for YDE teachers. After discovering her love of computers and technology as a young adult, Yehudis is grateful to have found a career that combines her skills and passions.
Gabriel Weinstein is a Project Manager, Digital Content and Communications for DigitalJLearning.