Valerie Gresser, a first grade teacher in Arizona felt like her students were having enough exposure of technology in the classroom. By only having a single computer in the classroom, the students were limited to computer use during class time. She felt that there were plenty tools available, but affording them was the issue. She researched the tools that she felt would benefit her classroom and presented her idea to the principal of the school. The principal informed her of the school district’s new goal, to make education applicable to the 21 st century learner, which technology is a major part of. She got the go ahead, but again money was an issue.
EMBRACING CLASSROOM TECHNOLOGY
She heard from a colleague that there was a $20,000 grant available for teachers to design their ‘ideal’ classroom. Gresser proposed her idea and won the grant! With the money she was able to completely transform her classroom with a ceiling projector, interactive whiteboard, interactive electronic table for students to input data, digital cameras and more! Gresser stated, “I’m still using best practices and doing all of the professional development that my district offers. I’m just adding the technology component to the mix.” She does admit to having a little difficulty learning to use all the new equipment at one time, but the students use all the equipment daily and has really proved to be attention-grabbing and useful in the classroom.
This article proved particularly interesting to me because as a future educator, I have had some trouble seeing how to incorporate technology into an elementary classroom. I found it very interesting that Gesser was able to find many ways for her first grade students to use the technology daily. One really great idea I thought she had was that she let the students use digital cameras to go around the school and take pictures of nouns and present a five slide Power-Point on nouns. I felt really passionate about the remark she made about using her best teaching styles, just incorporating technology. This seems like the best way to teach students today because that is what they are interested in, as well as it being an important key to many successful careers.
In a small school in East Tennessee, transforming their school into a ‘model for technology integration’ was a major goal. They began the BEACONS [Becoming Excited About Computers Offering New Strategies] project with the help of a grant. With the program they have offered technology training to students and teachers at Blue Springs Elementary. Rather than having one training seminar on the complex technology and expecting the teachers to know how to handle every problem, the grant pays for a ‘technology coach’ to be placed in the school to offer help as it is needed.
The technology coach is responsible for helping teachers continue the use of technology in the classrooms by helping them understand the tools in every situation. “Our teachers are learning that technology is not a separate curriculum, but an appropriate and critical part of every day learning.” The program also offers classes to parents of Blue Springs students that teaches them how to use the technology that their students are learning to they can be an asset to their learning at home.
The BEACONS program is a really great idea. It seems that it is common that the teachers attend one seminar or class on how to use an extremely complex piece of equipment and are expected to know how to correctly use it, despite any errors or problems they may run in to. Hiring a technology coach seems to be a perfect solution for that problem. Technology can sometimes become frustrating when it doesn’t work in the way we want it to, which may defer a teacher or parent from using it altogether. Having someone to be there help [i.e. tech coach] is a great way to keep the initial excitement alive.
A first grade classroom in Ohio is using a new program called CLIP [Computer Literacy by Intensive Preparation] to move students out of computer labs, and being able to put computers in the classrooms where the students have easier access to them. The program takes place at a University in Ohio that the first graders and their guardians attend. The purpose of the program is to teach the students six basic components of using a computer, using the mouse, click on objects, open programs, keyboard use, and how to print.
ELEMENTARY COMPUTER SKILLS TRAINING
Then the students have the opportunity to work some basic software programs such as the calculator, paint program, and drawing a clip-art. The program is only a day long, but it gives the students an opportunity to learn the necessary skills to use a computer.
This seems like a great way to open a gateway of opportunities for students who don’t have homes with technology savvy parents or a lot of technology in their home or school. Learning these important skills for higher elementary, high school, college, and careers. This article also gave some tips on how to recreate this program. It gave such suggestions as leaving recess space because young children need time to take a break. They also suggested making sure to re-create a classroom setting, so when they take the skills back to the classroom they can be used.
I found all of these articles extremely helpful to me. I was really unsure if it was even possible to incorporate technology into classrooms with young children with so much energy. The answer is clearly YES! All of these articles gave perfect examples of how it is possible to do so, and how important and useful it is. Although it does seem like the funding is usually the issue at hand, it seems that there are many grants and programs that are willing to assist to make sure students are getting the proper training in technology that they will need to succeed.
Elementary computer skills. (2002). The Journal , Retrieved from http:// thejournal.com/Articles/2002/03/01/Elementary-Computer-Skills-Training.aspx?sc_lang=en&Page=1
McCrea, B. (2010). Embracing classroom technology. The Journal , Retrieved from http:// thejournal.com/Articles/2010/06/17/Embracing-Classroom-Technology.aspx?Page=1
Tennessee: beacons project gets blue springs elementary on the road to true technology integration. (2004). The Journal , Retrieved from http:// thejournal.com/Articles/2004/07/01/Tennessee-BEACONS-Project-Gets-Blue-Springs-Elementary-On-the-Road-to-True-Technology-Integration.aspx?sc_lang=en&Page=2