The importance of technology education

When I was teaching, I used computers and all forms of technology in my classroom whenever I could. If the computer lab had an opening, I would often take my Language Arts students there to work on a writing piece. Even my health classes went there to do projects while learning to use Microsoft Publisher. When I left to stay home with the kids, I was actually scheduled to get a Smart Board in my room (who knows if it would have happened).

Growing up, we hardly had computer education. Back in the dinosaur ages, there were horrid little computers that had Carmen Sandiego on them if we were lucky. I also recall my 5th grade teacher having a Disney print program on it. Loved the personalized Disney stationary he made us. It actually motivated me to write. We wrote things by hand because there was not wide spread use of word processing – forget about spreadsheets! I learned things on my own as it showed up on the scene. I was fascinated with all things related to computers. I remember sitting in front of our old Commodore 64 and typing in code to make it do something interesting.

When I switched majors from Pharmacy School to education, I took computing classes to beef up on my knowledge. When I was working on my Masters Degree in Reading, I took my electives in Educational Computer. I could have taken Special Education courses, but I preferred finding out new and inventive ways of incorporating technology into the classroom.

Fast forward to being a mother. . .

Right now, a lot is on my mind. Threats that the district will be closing my son’s school, thanks to budget cuts from higher up, have us thinking about looking at other options. (I will leave that topic for another day.) This was intensified with me feeling like I am failing my son. Is he being challenged and working to his potential, or is he being held back? While trying to remain calm this afternoon, my focus went to technology education.

At NHL’s school, they start having computer twice a week in first grade. I was thrilled and could not wait to see what they would be doing. As the weeks and months have passed, I kept asking what they were learning. Much to my surprise, I would hear the same thing – they were allowed to go on the internet and use PBS Kids and other websites. At the start of the year, this was fine with me, but I started to question TechyDad about it and said I was going to e-mail the principal to see if there was a technology education curriculum.

While at school today, my question was answered. I was told that the person that does computer is not a teacher. It was only recently that they had a person go to the lab and be with kids in this room. Apparently, they decided to do this since many of the teachers in the school were not utilizing the items.

My mouth hit the floor and I almost had to ask for help picking it up. I was stunned, mortified and ticked off. This day and age technology education is a must. To keep kids up to speed, they all need to have basic computing skills. Many of the children in our district may not have computers at home, so it is even more crucial for the schools to do this. For children to be ready for high school, and competitive in college computer skills are not just needed they are essential.

So my questions for you today:  Does your school have a formal technology education? Is there a certified teacher following a curriculum with goals for each grade level?

I guess I was naive assuming that this was a given. Right now, I am taking it all in and trying to figure out how to approach this with the school. Of course, with threats to close 2 elementary schools, remove art/music educations for certain age groups this is not a good time to bring it up. *sigh*


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  • AJ says:

    Yes, we have a computer curriculum, but I think they mostly do stuff on and things like that. I never hear anything about computer class when they go, so apparently it’s either not that exciting, or it’s over their heads. LOL But at least they DO have a teacher with a curriculum. Our school is a Title 1 school, though. I don’t know if that makes any difference. Oh, and I think they take certain tests on the computers too.

    When I was in grade school, I don’t think a computer could even fit in one room, could it? ;-) We didn’t have computer classes available until about 10th grade, which I didn’t take anyway. We had an Atari 800 at home that we played with, and I think I’m the only one that ever used the WP cartridge (that’s right I said cartridge) that came with it. We tried to type in a few BASIC programs, but either we always mistyped something, or the book we used had typos in it, because the finished programs never ran right. LOL Ah….memories.

  • Katie says:

    First off I would like to say that I had never seen a Smart Board till moving here to NJ. In Schuylerville we did not have Smart Boards. It was still chalk boards and for a child with asthma it was a nightmare! I love Smart Boards. Our school district has one in every single classroom because they recieved a grant a couple years ago to have them placed. In this day and age they are the most wonderful invention for a classroom.

    On to computers…I just questioned J & L about their computer classes. They both have computer (technology here is actually technology – building of rockets, doing egg elevators) classes during the week. There is a teacher who bounces from J’s school to L’s school. L did say that they mostly go online (first grade). However she has done projects in computer class making different things using clip art and core programs on the computer. If they go online it is all educational websites. J said that they are learning about websites, different keys on the keyboard and a couple other things. J learned how to do Power Point presentations last year in 4th grade but that was by his core (homeroom) teacher.

    I went to college to for computers. The reason being is because I can remember from a very early age sitting in math class with a monster of a computer (I am sure one of the very first Apples) and having to program it. If we wanted to play games then we had to put in the program in order to make it work. It was a long process but so rewarding. As I grew and took computer classes it was mostly for typing and being able to use the basic programs that were on that computer. Kids are going to learn how to go online, no doubt about that. However, what about teaching them to type with out having to look at their fingers. What about learning how to use Word, Works, for J’s sake Power Point or any of the other core programs. What about introducing them to the keyboard and what all the keys mean and are used for. Proper finger placement on the keyboard. Introducing them to the internet at such a young age is opening up a can of worms.

    Now do my kids get on the internet at home? Yes. I am sure that school is much safer but I know what my kids get on here at the house. I would rather them get on here at the house then at school. We have the right to be floored that our children for 20 minutes 2x a week are sitting in front of a computer playing games online at school.

    So is there a certified teacher here? Yes. Are there goals? I am not sure. I will be asking though!

  • Tammy says:

    Gabby shows me things she typed up and printed in class. I’ve had the chance to sit on one of the computer classes. They have a program they are using. It involves things that are simple for now, shutting the computer down and typing. They don’t get to use the internet.

  • Simply Cathi says:

    Ten years ago when I was working in a classified position at one of our districts elementary schools each school had a computer lab and each class had an assigned time for one hour a week to be in the lab. I know some teachers signed up for extra time but it was rare. I also know that most teachers dropped their class off and didn’t stay. It was an hour that they used as an extra break to go to the teacher’s lounge. The lab was run by a classified employee. (As a classified employee I worked first as a teacher’s assistant, school “nurse” and finished as front desk receptionist.) The children played games. Kindergarten – 5th grade simply played computer games. There was the rare teacher (Mrs. Jackie Brown was one) who assigned her class a project and they spent the computer time working on the assignment. She always stayed and assisted the kids. Great teacher in my opinion.
    I just asked my 4th grade and kindergarten grandsons if they have computer time at school. Neither do.
    California is on the brink of bankruptcy.
    Two schools in our district will be closed at the end of this school year and 300 pink slips have been issued to staff.
    I don’t know how children can get a good education without getting supplemented at home.
    Sadly, education seems to be the first thing cut on every level of government.
    Even I am trying to figure out how to make sure my grandchildren only watch and play games that will teach them necessary concepts. Because they are with me everyday (because of working parents) it sometimes takes the fun out of Grandma’s house. :(
    .-= Simply Cathi´s last blog ..Iwo Jima =-.

  • Simply Cathi says:

    I just read the other comments.
    I do believe CA is way behind!!
    .-= Simply Cathi´s last blog ..Iwo Jima =-.

  • Kim says:

    There is not a formal curriculum in my district. There is no certified teacher. The trip to the computer lab is one of the “specials” that is used to provide planning time for the classroom teacher. The specials that have certified teachers are music, art and PE; much to my dismay, the library is also not run by a professional. (I’m working on it!)

    The ETAC (Educational Technology Advisory Committee) is working on a scope & sequence for computer literacy and it will also specify who will teach what skills. It will be based on ISTE’s NET*S for students. I have asked to serve on this committee to ensure that students are learning the essential skills to function in our increasingly technological society.

    I have not worked in any district that had certified technology teachers at the elementary level. In some districts, by middle school, the teachers that used to teach woodshop and industrial arts are teaching tech skills. Sometimes it’s a language arts teacher with an interest in technology. Sometimes it’s integrated with the librarian’s Information Literacy skills curriculum.

    Ask about the district’s technology plan. I would think that it should explain how tech is used and taught in the district. In PA, districts have to write these every three years.
    .-= Kim´s last blog ..Getting healthier in 2010 =-.

  • Kim says:

    I should have put a link for the
    ISTE NET*S documents
    .-= Kim´s last blog ..Getting healthier in 2010 =-.

  • I have worked in a couple of schools where no formal computer classes were taught. The kids were with a teacher (who had no degree….she was simply a babysitter, per se) and they did nothing but play games or use the internet. It infuriated me. What a waste of millions of dollars of technology to play games!!!

    When I was a Librarian, my students begged to use the internet but were only allowed to for research purposes or to take Accelerated Reader tests. I was just so thankful to even have an internet connection in our library, which would instill shock and horror in people who had never seen such a structurally run-down building. It was sad. Even more sad was the fact that some of their classroom teachers had no computer training and didn’t even know how to use filters to weed out the terrible websites that can pop up with innocent searches. It may as well have been a free-for-all. But the most infuriating thing was that some of the teachers refused to learn how to fully use the web based reading and math enrichment program the school was implementing, so there again was money and technology just absolutely wasted.

    I remember in high school the Carmen Sandiego games, too! Ha! But we also learned the basic DOS system and how word processing worked. It was ancient technology then, but we were learning what we needed to at the time.

    I fully agree with you, though. If our children are to be prepared for the world we live in now, they HAVE to know how to use computers beyone playing games or surfing the web. It’s crucial.
    .-= Mommy Cracked´s last blog ..Butterfly Kisses…Or Something Like That =-.

  • Steff says:

    While I totally agree our kids need to llearn the technology beyond the game playing, I think at this age we need to foster the love of the technology and the rest willl come. We had one of the original Apples @ my grade school. The school got two of them for the library with a grant when I was in 4th grade. I didn’t know ANYONE else who had a computer @ home, we had a Radio Shack TRS-80. It was a cassette driven machine with I believe 32 bite memory or maybe kilo bite but thats doubtful. We had that from 78-85 and then my dad brought a IBM compatible home….it had the 3.5 and 5 1/4 floppy drives and a monochrome screen. I started with the computers because of the games, they gave me a leg up on the technology to begin with. When I got to college, the second year I was there they added a DOS/Lotus + class.
    I have taken apart every computer we have owned in the last 6 or seven years after they reached the point of dead or dying and studied everything I can about them.
    I am almost completely self taught. I did take 3 computer classes over my college career, but in all of them I had been computing longer than the teachers
    .-= Steff´s last blog ..Exceeding Expectations =-.

  • TheAngelForever says:

    @AJ – Thanks for stopping by to answer my question. A lot of schools have people that are in a computer lab to let the kids use and other education websites. I am talking about more than that. Kids in 1st grade should be able to turn a computer on/off, save something they are working on, use Microsoft Word to type a note and pull clip art – simple things. By second grade it increases to typing skills and by 4th or 5th a simple Power Point Presentation for an oral report/presentation.

  • TheAngelForever says:

    @Katie – A lot of the districts in our area have a Smart Board per school or they share them. The school I was in had them thanks to grants and private donations. The technology has come a long way. When I was teaching I went to a class to see how to use them within the classroom. It was pretty minimalistic at that time since most software/educational computing companies had just started making programs to help teachers with them.

    It sounds like what L is doing is perfect for her age group. Same with what J is doing in later elementary. Those are the types of computer/technology skills that I assumed was being done every where. I was wrong and had no clue computer time was more of babysitting in our school. Don’t get me wrong, NHL’s teacher is a super nice person and this is not his fault. This is the district failing the children.

    I know the internet filters at school are BIG, so I have faith in the internet use there. Still like you said typing skills, basic word processing, clip art use, and eventually Spread Sheets and Power Point are a must. Things that I can do at home with NHL, but what about the other kids. This is something that is a MUST in my view for all schools in this country. Sad that we are letting this slide this day in age. Please keep me posted on what you find out.

  • TheAngelForever says:

    @Tammy – It definitely sounds like Gabby’s teacher has a set of goals that they are working on at school. Like I said, it isn’t that I want a lot, but basic skills should be taught at the elementary level.

  • TheAngelForever says:

    @Cathi – Our state is pretty close to catching up with California. Our district is going to have 1.2 million dollars pulled. So obviously we will not be adding on additional teachers for computer class. In fact they are talking about cutting PE, Art and Music for the kids.

    It sounds like what you did is what the person at NHL’s school does. He is all over the school doing items, but sits in the computer room with the kids to give the teachers a break. When I was teaching there was a computer teacher with goals/lessons. Of course we could also tell her what we were working on and she would incorporate it. Plus there was time for us to schedule additional time in the lab for the kids to work on more items with us. I tried to do this as much as the schedule would allow. It really annoys me that government pulls educational funding first. What they forget is they are only hurting the kids – they are the ones that are the future of our country.

  • TheAngelForever says:

    @Kim – It really is pathetic that trained professionals are not teaching library/research and computer skills to our children. Kids will only know how to Google and surf the web when they hit middle school. What about teaching them how to know if a source of information is genuine, how to type up a report or make a Power Point Presentation. All skills that are needed in high school, college and in some cases beyond. Makes me sick that education and especially getting the kids ready for the new technologically advanced world is not a priority. I know there are budget cuts and times are tough, but these children are our future. We are failing them.

    I need to get the guts to approach the principal and/or district about their technology plan. My guess is there is not going to be one. *sigh*

  • TheAngelForever says:

    @MommyCracked – Ugh, sounds like a lot of the same thing is going on all over the place. There is a need for internet use, don’t get me wrong. Kids need to be taught how to use search engines and figure out if a source online is genuine or not. These are things a teacher needs to do, not a babysitter in a computer lab. Basic computing skills are not being learned and the kids are falling behind before they hit middle school, no less high school. How are children going to be ready for college if they are not learning the most basic items that will be needed when they are on their own in higher education?

    I know that most of the districts here have had computer training offered to them. I used it, but not sure if it is still around now or being utilized. I should ask NHL’s teacher since they were really amazing FREE courses.

  • TheAngelForever says:

    Steff – When I say technology education, I am talking about simple things and progressing as the kids get older. I loved the goals that the school I worked at had. In PreK they did games and things to learn how to use the mouse. By kindergarten they learned the parts of the computer and how to turn things on and off. At first grade they used simple programs to write letters and incorporate clip art to print their own work. Typing skills started by second grade and continued to be worked on in 3rd grade. Soon after this they started to learn to use Power Point for presentations that would be done in years to come. Progression of basic skills in a non threatening environment that would help them in their academic areas.

  • Donny Stiffler says:

    Wow, I am suprised that your children do not even have a certified teacher in the room. Although i am not a teacher i still am aware that the school that i attended had a formal technology curriculum for every grade and a real teacher who taught it. I can remeber back to when i was that young, this is because i am only 20 years of age, and i can remember our teacher giving us assignments. These assignments were at the begining of each class and very small so that when we were done we could then get on and surf the internet. Some of the assignments were very simple such as the teacher giving us a already typed short story and having us re-type it in word proscessor. Although it seems small im sure it taught me alot about navigation around a computer. I think it is important to keep the assignments small because kids at such a young age can have such a short attention span.
    Well, i know i cant answer your question all that well, but i just wanted to comment and share my thoughts. Hope things get better in your childs class and good luck!