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Education & Technology: What Really Changes Over Time?

11/28/2016 11:06AM ● Published by Jennifer Gonzalez

BY SUSAN WONDERLY

As an educator, I often think about how education has changed over time. Many years ago, when I was a student, the way we learned material was so different. We didn’t have computers. We went to the local library to do research or used class textbooks. We also had to handwrite our assignments in notebookswhich we kept organized in our Trapper Keepers.

During my school days, the most exciting technology we had was the electric typewriter. Once I had my own children, I saw some similarities but more differences. Preschool was no longer just a place to learn to play cooperatively with others. If you wanted to arm your child with the skills necessary to be successful when entering kindergarten, it was a necessity.

When my children were in school, technology was becoming the future and a computer was no longer a luxury; to complete homework, it was a necessity. I was amazed at how quickly my children caught on to this new technology. For example, looking up a word or a topic on Google was faster than looking it up in a dictionary or in an encyclopedia. How easy it was to type your homework out and check spellings just by clicking a button.

Choosing to be an educator

Watching education evolve made me want to be part of the bigger picture, and since I enjoyed teaching my own children and helping them with their homework, I decided that I wanted to help students in the school system as well. I was determined to help as many children as I could, and so I became a teacher.

 For most of my career, I have taught first grade. I have not only watched the curriculum change, but also the way in which teachers teach and the way in which students are assessed.

Students today take a more active role in their education. When I was a student, you listened to the teacher lecture and took notes without any thought of questioning what you didn’t understand. Now, teachers guide the instruction and students become active participants.

Students understand reading and math by participating and collaborating. They can become peer teachers for their fellow classmates. In today’s classrooms, teachers welcome students to challenge each other’s answers, work collaboratively and explain their reasoning.

Technology assistance

Students today have many opportunities to be successful, and they don’t have to wait until high school to have access to the latest technology, because this access begins in kindergarten.

Some of this technology includes Smart Boards, where students can interact with lessons on the screen, and programs formatted around a student’s individual needs, like I-Ready.

Many schools have sets of iPads and laptops— large enough to accommodate an entire class—which allow students to practice at their own pace and master language arts and math
skills. This technology is setting our students up for success in the 21st century.

Testing
These days, testing in the lower grades is referred to as assessments, and assessments in reading are no longer a paper and pencil running record.

Instead, technology today helps score students in different areas of reading from phonics and phonemic awareness to nonsense words and the program is called mCLASS:Reading.

Set up for success

One thing is for sure: there has never been a time when parents didn’t worry about their child becoming successful. Standards are higher now than ever before for a student to be considered on grade level. One question parents ask me at conferences each year is, “What can I do to help my child at home?”

Once again, technology is a wonderful tool and the Internet offers websites for students to practice their skills in any subject imaginable. Gone are the days of reading media books to your children. Students today need to read out loud to Mom and Dad. To really master a reading level, students need to comprehend what the story is about. Having them read to you is very important.


In school, students are required to read stories to the teacher and then answer questions independently. Though this skill is hard at first, with time and practice students become more comfortable and confident, but practicing at home helps.

An easy way to do this is to ask questions about the story. This is a crucial thing parents can do to help students prepare for reading assessments and to help their children become better readers.

As we enter 2017, I will be waiting and anticipating, wondering where education will take us next in the New Year.


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