By GABRIELLA BICALHO
Remembering how a classroom looked like in elementary school seems much like a faint dream. At the most there might have been a chalkboard because no one forgets the screeching sound a chalk makes when pressed against the surface of a blackboard.
Today when entering a classroom the first thing spotted will be a smart board. As time progresses and technology advances, children are being more exposed to smart devices in the classroom than ever before. Most children today have no knowledge of what chalkboards are or let alone their existence in classrooms. Elementary school is an innovative time for children to learn and create. The way in which they are doing so may be different than previous generations but just how different is what parents want to know.
When sending children to school, parents trust that teachers and faculty members have the best interest in relation to educating these curious little humans whose minds and ideas are constantly expanding. So how much technology exactly is being pushed down on children in elementary school?
Jennifer Powers, a kindergarten teacher at Addison Elementary School, says that over the years in her extensive experience in teaching, technology has grown significantly at an extremely fast pace.
She says, “When I started we were still using overhead projectors. We had to apply for grants to get any technology that we wanted.”
As to what kind of technology is being used the most, Powers explains that the smart board is the number one tool used every day. These smart boards have interactive software that allows children to draw and write on them through touch screen sensitivity. This technological advance was the primary change that altered the way in which children are learning today. Instead of being limited to just note taking and completing worksheets, the introduction of the smart board has created room for more collaborative work.
When specifically asked about just how much technology is being pushed down in the classroom, Powers offered a positive outlook on the topic.
“We aren’t having a push into us,” she said. “We have iPad carts that kids can use and we really don’t use them because there aren’t funding for the apps that we need.”
The apps Powers refer to are safe learning apps that can only benefit the children. It suddenly becomes clear that there is an incentive to learn through technological devices but the lack of funding holds back the process. This leads to an imperative question of how students without financial means are able to keep up with online activities done outside of the classroom.
Ana Paula Dias, a mother of a 5-year-old elementary school student, understands the difficulty of providing her son with unlimited Internet access. She explains that the school is really great with helping in regards to that aspect.
“When he is not able to finish homework assignments that require Internet, his teacher allows him to complete it usually before or after class,” she said. “His teacher will communicate how he is doing on his online activities and provide me with feedback so I know he is doing well.”
The interaction between teachers and parents is what makes this technology influence in the classroom a positive process because parents are able to actively participate in their child’s learning. Educational websites allow students to log into activities that reinforce the child’s level of reading and math, therefore allowing both the teacher and the parent to monitor academic improvement.
The teacher-parent communication seems to be a must when it comes to the safety of these technological gadgets. Both Powers and Dias agree that the responsibility of keeping the child safe is more centered toward the parent. Although children are exposed to technology at school, it is mostly outside of the classroom that they encounter the freedom to navigate the Web.
Powers says, “Everyone I know have safe talks with them about how to browse the Internet, where to go and where not to go Our media center does a great job teaching the kids on telling whether the website they are on is real or fake. It is going to be more on the parents to monitor what they are doing on their own time.”
With all of the different methods of teaching, technology seems to be the most growing effective tool used in the classroom. Although there is great responsibility needed to go along with its use, technology seems to only be growing among children. It is safe to say that teachers are taking every precaution in teaching children how to use these tools safely.