I am committed to equity and inclusive practice. Each day I “check in” with myself and ask those important questions: Do all my students feel included in the classroom? Have I excluded any students from the learning I have planned today? With technology these questions are particularly important to consider. In particular, I want to address the concerns around students’ access to computers. As I mentioned in my last blog post, my students and I are fortunate to have unlimited access to technology, specifically, laptops, wireless Internet and digital cameras. Access to these tools presents us with endless opportunities to make learning meaningful and engaging for students. The students are so excited about learning. They want to take their flash drives home to work on writing projects and they log in from home to contribute to their Edmodo groups. However, there are some students who don’t have computers at home. What about these kids? These students can quickly feel left out if they are not part of the “virtual” in-group, so how can I make the most of the technology I have and not marginalize any of my students?
I have been working closely with one of my mentors since October. He has helped me create a vision for my class use of computers. I want to get my students to the point where they decide when they need the computers and when they do not. At the beginning, I had all the control. I directed students when to take out the laptops and when to put them away. In the first few weeks, you could walk into our classroom and see all the students working on their laptops at the same time, doing the same thing, like a computer lab. This didn’t feel right for me. Now, more often, you could walk into our classroom and see some students on laptops, some not. The students using laptops will likely be doing different activities. A few may be logged on to Edmodo contributing to their discussion groups, some may be working on a second or third draft of writing, others could be reading or doing research, while others could be engaged in an on-line lesson from Ontario’s Education Resource Bank. I believe that this kind of learning environment helps students develop independent work habits, increases student engagement and by allowing students to have some control and choice in their learning, I hope to see an increase in student achievement and a decrease in classroom management issues. I also believe that such an environment will allow all students to participate in and keep up with on line learning during the school day. It may not completely resolve my access concerns, but I am sure it helps.