As my seven year old son continues to grow, I continue to learn too! I am raising him in such advanced times, and trust me, saying this makes me feel ancient and I am not even that old!
My son is enrolled in a district where each school has a focus on computer science, each student has an assigned laptop since kindergarten. They learn coding fundamentals in kinder; the students build lego communities as a class project every year and the upper grades have robotic competitions.
When the curriculum was introduced, I do have to admit I was a bit nervous and asked many questions, such as how much in class time he was going to spend in front of a screen instead of a teacher? Was this going to make him a tech addict? Was he going to want more electronic time at home because he was using a laptop at school? And questions have continued to come up. The important thing is that I always ask; I ask my son, I ask his teacher and I ask the principal. I want to be sure all sides coincide. This is all new to me, when I went to school I was lucky if had my own textbook! Even 15 years ago when my daughter was in elementary school, there weren’t any laptops/ipads in the classrooms.
What I have learned in the last three years is that technology is a tool for us and for our children and if they have access to these tools early on in their classrooms, they can benefit from them, if they are monitored used properly.
A new principal came to my son’s school this year, and she is all about technology! She introduced a communication app named Class Dojo. She and staff communicate with parents via this app, they post announcements, reminders, and resources. My son’s teacher will post pictures of the class from time to time, and I am also able to monitor his behavior in class. I can message my son’s teacher and or the principal directly through the app and they are to reply by the end of the business day. I haven’t had a need, but it’s great that I have quick access.
Garvey School District uses iReady K-8th grade, this personalized computer program is used 9 minutes a day, five days a week. This computer program is designed to help students work at their individual grade level with an increasing difficulty level for them to improve. The program is also a tool for teachers if used effectively. Teachers should be able to identify where their students need the most help and should be able to provide tailored support during instruction time.
Ok so all this sounds innovated and great right? It’s working for my son, he’s shown significant improvement in reading comprehension, he started the year approaching grade level and is currently at grade level according to his scores. I check his iReady account from time to time to see his progress. Overall, I’ve learned to embrace technology and keep myself up to date, well as much as I can anyway.
But it’s easy for me to say, English is my first language, I went to school here, I graduated high school in the ‘90s. I am also currently a college student, and I have an adult daughter who has kept me up to date.
I can only imagine the challenges parents who didn’t grow up in the US, don’t speak English, are not tech-savvy, and are 5-10 years older than me face. I have always wondered how do those parents help their kids with homework? Homework for elementary school students is not as easy as it was in the past, I sometimes read the word problems over a few times before I understand them. Now add technology into the mix, it can be a bit overwhelming if you ask me.
The district has done a good job in communicating how technology is used in the classroom and at school, but in order for all parents to monitor their students’ progress online, they need to be able to understand it and access it, I don’t think the district is at that level yet. The district recently conducted its first iReady parent training to explain how it works, how to access it, and what’s the purpose for it. The first quarter is over, this should have been done before school began or in the first month of school not right before the holidays. We need to set up our parents and students to succeed early and be consistent with additional/follow up trainings so that parents who need additional support can ask for help early on.
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