Basic education in the 21st Century goes far beyond the ABC’s. At the April school board meeting, Great Bend USD 428 technology coaches presented technology literacy standards and the board adopted their recommendation.
Technology literacy goes beyond simple keyboarding to helping students learn technology and the impact it has in their lives, said technology coaches Darcy Leech, Great Bend Middle School; Brock Funke, Park Elementary; Lindsay Mazouch, Lincoln Elementary; and Casey Gatton, Riley Elementary.
They are following the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards that are designed to:
• Help students and teachers alike understand how to be good digital citizens, which includes keeping safe online.
• Teach them to use a variety of technologies to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions.
• Teach them to become creative communicators, able to use the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.
Assistant Superintendent John Popp noted the district already has Chromebooks for students to use and technology coaches in each learning center. Last year the school board approved keyboarding standards. The adoption of standards for technology literacy is the next step.
“We knew we wanted to get better with technology,” Popp said. “There’s a lot more to being able to understand technology than just being able to type.”
Technology coaches already work with their fellow teachers to help them use the tools available to them, Leech said.
“We’re not just using Chromebooks to replicate worksheets,” she said. The goal is to empower students as they learn to use technology.
“They need to be creators, not just consumers playing games and watching YouTube videos on their phones,” Leech said. Teachers want to see students getting their hands on their Chromebooks and experimenting. “We’re interested in seeing that they’re on the creation side of technology.”
Professional growth for the teachers is also part of the ISTE standards, Leech said. “We’ve had Google classes for the last two summers but this year we’ll do more.”
Funke talked about the digital citizenship lessons he teaches to third and fourth graders at Park Elementary. They learn what personal information is, what to share and what not to share online. They may also learn what to do when talking to others around the globe, on Skype, for example.
Gatton and Mazouch talked about the technology used to teach keyboarding. Currently teaches use free software to teach this skill.
“We would like to purchase Typing Club,” Gatton said. “The free version has a lot of ads and garbage on the screen that the kids are able to see during the lessons. Typing Club walks them through over 600 lessons and it’s just a more comprehensive way of being able to teach keyboarding to the kids at the different levels that they are at. It does a really good job of combining game time with lesson time so they work through the lessons and as they progress they earn time to play typing games.” It is designed to help users learn to type 75 words per minute.
Superintendent Khris Thexton summed up the goal of setting technology literacy standards: “We’ve got this nice equipment and if you can’t use it to its full potential it’s kind of a waste.”