Tools for School

Tracy Area High School sixth-grader Lily Khang worked on her laptop recently. Khang, along with her fellow grade-school classmates, work on their Chromebooks daily, but teachers have made sure that technology does not rule their school days. Photo / Per Peterson

Tracy Area Elementary School has introduced some of its younger students to laptops, but with a sense of purpose

By Per Peterson

There are many ways to look at technology, and Tracy Area Elementary School has chosen to view it as a tool, rather than a detriment.

This year, screen time has been introduced to second graders at TAES. While some might think that’s too early to put kids in front of screens, educators in Tracy are more than comfortable extending the district’s 1:1 technology all the way down to that age level.

TAES fifth- and sixth-grade teacher Lucas Novosad said at home, it should be up to the parents to discern how much technology should influence their children’s lives; at school, teachers introduce laptops because they know it’s important to expose their students to new technology in a positive way.

“As an educator, I always try to remember that technology is just a tool for student learning,” Novosad said. “There is no one program that will cure all. The use of technology has to be purposefully planned and practiced correctly for students to reach the educational goals all teachers strive for. As a teacher, balancing tech time and traditional classroom methods comes down to planning. Some units of study will include more technology than others.”

Nosovad, like other teachers in Tracy, believes it’s important to expose students — even the very young ones —  to technology and how it continues to influence the world.

“The more we can show students how to use technology appropriately — and for uses where they can see how it is used in the everyday world — the better students will be prepared for after high school. We have an amazing opportunity to use technology in a way to share skills that will translate in the many years to come; and even jobs that haven’t even been created yet.”

Back to the second grade

Second-grade teacher Ashley Buysse said so much of the world today is technology-based, and that it’s important for all students to keep pace. Ultimately, it’s up to the schools and teachers to foster that knowledge.

“Every day is different, but we try to use it whenever possible as it can help cut back on paper/copy costs,” she said. “We use it for Accelerated Reader Testing, typing, technology skills, grammar skills through Google slides, math fact fluency, research projects and so much more. We also use them as a reward where sometimes students will be allowed free choice.”

Fellow second-grade teacher Samantha Prahm said that general knowledge of computers has increased, meaning even the youngest of students are able to work on computers more easily now than ever before.

“They understand the idea of bookmarks and the purpose of them,” she said. “I was taken by a happy surprise when we had gone to a website two times and a student said ‘Ms. Prahm, should we add this to our bookmark bar?’ and was equally surprised after I said that would be a good idea, that 12 out of 14 remembered how to add it to their bookmark bar, after adding only a few bookmarks at the beginning of the year.”

Teachers also said that by working with Chromebooks, students are also learning responsibility.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.