LiteracyTA Supports Your Technology Initiatives: Access and Equity

By on June 30, 2015

Classroom teachers, schools, and districts are always looking for effective resources that add real value to their newest tech initiatives. Machines (laptops and mobile devices) are more available than ever, but giving purpose to these tools is critical. This week, ISTE is hosting their summer conference in Philadelphia. I had the privilege of facilitating a workshop on the second day of the conference: Responsive Teaching with Powerful Online Tools. While at the conference I realized that many educators are still at the beginning stages of this tech revolution that is happening in education. As more initiatives and programs make their way into our schools, teachers and administrators need sound advice and practical ways to meet their goals. This eCoach will be the first of a three part series. Series 1 will focus on Access and Equity. Series 2 will explain how our award winning TA (Teacher Assistant) can support your tech initiatives. In the final post, I will discuss practical ways to teach the technology that exists in our new state standards.  

Access and Equity

At the heart of 1:1 and BYOD (bring your own device) initiatives is access and equity. If schools provide all students with machines or allow them to bring in their own, then students are thought to be equipped with the same resources and "access" as everyone else. Additionally, if all students have access to technology and the Internet, they have a direct line to information--and the world--even if it is in a digital form. With large budgets, it's fairly easy for districts to provide machines to all of their students. So should we check the "access" box? Done. All students have access. But is this the spirit of 1:1? What does access truly mean? What if Teacher A uses their classroom computer cart to type and Teacher B uses their machines to research, read critically, and develop solutions to issues in the local community. Both sets of students have "access." But the access is far from equal. From my simple example, it is clear that buying machines for all students doesn't fix the equity issue.

What can schools and districts do to achieve both access and equity? First, schools and districts should give students access to machines but also teach them how to access technology on their own. When students get to college or begin working, they will not receive a backpack with a computer. They will have to solve their own access issues. Teaching students to be solution oriented is part of building them up and preparing them for the world. True access and equity begins with a commitment to teaching students how to be independent--teaching them how to think.

Second, schools and districts should have a mix of digital tools and programs. Purchasing what I call "Plug and Play" programs where the teacher is removed from the learning experience and students are "plugged" into a computer (completing tasks and playing games in isolation) will not deliver the types of academic, career oriented students colleges and the workforce expect from public education. Therefore, the library of resources used on these machines should also include tools that give students access to language support so that they can learn to speak and write with textual details, synthesize information from various sources, and articulate their reasoning with coherent and logic thinking. Students should be able to access tutorials, learn from home, follow processes for reading and writing that help them complete in-class and take home assignments, and have access to tools to help them learn in different ways. At LiteracyTA, we have worked very hard to make sure our online tools give students access to this type of support and use a common approach to reading, speaking, and writing so that schools can offer an equitable experience for all students. Learn how we do this by signing up for our free orientation.    

In short, access and equity goes beyond what we can buy for students. It is a frame of mind and it starts with a simple belief that all students can do extraordinary things. If we believe students can think at high levels and excel, we can better plan how we are going to use our new shinny machines to move all students forward. If we believe students can, they will.

Continue Learning

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Literacy Standards In Action

We've mapped our literacy lessons and reading, speaking, and writing skills to state standards, Common Core, and NGSS. The standards are "the what" to teach. Our lessons are "the how" to meet the expectations defined by the standards. Click on the links below to view our quick reference table that maps standards to literacy lessons.

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