Over the years, I have had my fair share of conversations with teachers and administrators that don’t want to incorporate technology into their lessons.
They typically have excuses for ignoring edtech ranging from not having “enough time” to “it is a fad” to “the kids know more than I do.” Pretty much every excuse is a bad one.
And if you have a child in any Texas public school, especially in Grades K-8, and they are NOT using technology in at least some of their class work, they are being cheated out of part of their educational experience. Let me explain why:
Since the 1990’s, Texas has required that all students learn how to use, and then to actually use, technology as part of the learning standards. These standards are known as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or TEKS. The TEKS are the bible of your child’s learning.
They guide the teacher to teach the lessons they teach. If you ever wondered why a school teaches one thing and not another, the answer, at least in Texas, is the TEKS. There are TEKS for Science, Social Studies, Math even for Marching Band. If it is a course taught in a public school Texas, there are TEKS standards that the teacher must teach.
Which brings us to educational use of technology.
Every single class, Kindergarten through 8th grade, in Texas is expected to use technology. That is written in the TEKS and is known as the Technology Application TEKS K-8. (These have been around in one form or another since the early 1990’s.)
When I say “use technology” I do not mean that students get on a computer and take some kind of online test taking remediation or play a math game. I mean that students should be producing content created with tech.
They shouldn’t just be watching a PowerPoint presentation, they should be making a PowerPoint presentation.
They shouldn’t just be watching instructional movies, they should be creating instructional movies.
They shouldn’t just be listening to podcasts, they should be creating podcasts.
They shouldn’t just be reading books, they should be authoring and publishing their own ebooks.
You get the idea.
Students, by and large, should be using these huge investments of technology dollars to create content, and teachers should be directing students to do so.
Before you say, well, not all classes call for or need that kind of technology integration, the State of Texas begs to differ: Teachers are evaluated in the State by a tool called the T-TESS, or Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System.
This tool is broken down into 4 Domains, and each domain is broken down into 5 sub-domains or Dimensions. Planing, Instruction, Learning Environment, and Professional Practices and Responsibilities. Every single one of the T-TESS Domains either directly mentions or implies the use of technology in the classroom.
The T-TESS strongly emphasizes what the STUDENTS are doing in the classroom, not what the teacher is doing, ergo, the standards for the State of Texas as well as how teachers are evaluated demand teachers in every grade and in every content area to incorporate technology into their lessons. Every single one.
If they are not, you as a parent need to be asking why not. You need to push your child’s teacher and your campus administrator if your child is not using technology as a creation tool in their classroom.
And don’t put up with excuses. There are none. It is 2019. Technology is part of learning. It is part of our lives. It is not 1950.
Districts across the state spend enormous amounts of time, money and resources putting technology into schools and into students hands. That is not without reason.
However, if students are not asked to use the technology that they have been given, then they are being cheated. You, as a parent, needs to make sure that your child is receiving the full 2019-20 education experience. Not the 1950 education experience.
Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink, Read his previous columns here.
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