Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Teachers cite techbook challenges

After a recent article about the move toward digital  "techbooks,"  I heard from a couple of teachers who talked about challenges they're facing.

Sherri Garside,  a history teacher at Alexander Graham Middle,  said the social studies digital programs created by Discovery Education remain incomplete.  Sixth-graders have a full curriculum,  but whole centuries are still being developed for seventh- and eighth-graders,  she said.


"To say teachers are frustrated is an understatement!"  she said.  "What they have is great, but useless unless it is updated."

I also heard from a teacher at a high-poverty middle school,  who asked not to be named for fear his principal would take offense.  I visited Community House Middle,  a low-poverty school in the southern suburbs,  for the article.  This teacher said his students are far less likely to be able to do the techbook work from home.  They may have smartphones,  he said,  but they're not likely to have laptops or home computers that are conducive to moving among multiple items and doing online work.

Both teachers said a shortage of classroom devices poses challenges.  Unlike Mooresville Graded Schools,  which provides each student with a MacBook they can use in class and take home,  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools relies on classroom laptops or carts of devices that can be rolled between classrooms.  The teacher at the high-poverty school said that doesn't provide enough consistent access for students to get comfortable with the digital programs.

"The more you use Discovery Education,  the better you get with it,"  he said.  "Discovery Education itself is great."

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Last time I checked, Newton's Laws of Motion haven't changed. Actually, most material (at the elementary and middle school levels)in textbooks has not changed. So the previous suggestion that all must move towards technology based techbooks for "New" information is a bunch of crapola. CMS has ROOMS full of textbooks that could be used in the classroom and going home with students as a resource for the family. Yet thousands upon thousands of textbooks sit in rooms throughout the county. Bonfire anyone?

Carol S. said...

Certainly there is some usefulness of the Internet, but at what cost for our next generation? Now we are expected to run out and buy our young children Iphones and Ipads to use at school all day, then come home and sit in front of to occupy their time? No thanks, the personal tech devices have altered the way we read, and the way we pay attention and the depth of our learning. As a parent I am not on board with your latest fad. You are contributing to the dumbing down of the next generation.

Wiley Coyote said...

Technology challenges will continue to plague CMS and they will never catch up. The size of the district and cost forbids it.

Technology is disposable. The day you buy technology and take it out of the store it is already out of date. It's like buying a new car. Once you drive it off the lot it's a used car and starts depreciating.

Comparing CMS to Moorseville means nothing.

MGSD has 5,500 students and CMS has 145,000. It's much easier to manage technology services with that small of a group.

I started out with a Coleco Adam tape drive computer back in 1985. Since then, I've used DOS and every windows operating system plus Apple. Every two years I get a new computer at work which usually has a newer version of Windows and updated versions of Office and other programs along the way.

A child who starts out in one grade on a system will wind up facing the same type changes a few years later. Even those of us who are pretty tech savvy have issues going from Windows 7 to Windows 8 (which totally sucks).

By the way. I notice on the MGSD website that the Apple logo is prominently displayed at the bottom of their homepage with a link and states "Made on a Mac".

My suggestion to them is, redo your website because your homepage is SLOWWWWWWW!

Technology is great and a useful tool in education, but it is being used as a diversion by CMS and others as a magic bullet to learning, which it is not and never will be.

As 7:24 said, Newton's Laws have not changed and neither has the answer to 2+2.

Anonymous said...

Good comments. The problem that I have with this story is that it's just more screen time for the students.

Anonymous said...

Also, these new "techbooks" do not support JAVA making it impossible to use many wonderful web sites to support the curriculum.

Anonymous said...

I read that there is a school in silicon valley that many of the guys who created much of the modern technology send their kids too. Not sure if it is public, charter, or private. NO screens of any kind are allowed in this school. Just old fashioned research, discussion, debate, etc. goes on. Think of that, even the creators of technology want their kids to develop without it!

Philip said...

If parents and school administrators think that little Johnny and Susie are just reading their techbooks and googling Ancient Egypt at school, I have some swamp land I'd like to sell them.

Anonymous said...

8:19 Yes, you are referring to the Waldorf School. Ironically the high tech leaders know the detriment that too much screen time has on young minds, so they choose to send their children to schools with No technology to enable deeper, fuller and more meaningful learning. Article below:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/technology/at-waldorf-school-in-silicon-valley-technology-can-wait.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

Candy Cane said...

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/08/15/laptop-losers-tech-actually-hindering-kids-grades-in-classrooms/?intcmp=features

There is so much information on this subject. Parents should absolutely be wary of too much computer time for their kids. The American Society of Pediatrics recommends 2 hours TOTAL screen time for all school-aged children. Wonder if CMS is aware of this?

Anonymous said...

I am feeling hopeful this morning reading some of these comments. I am a mother of three boys and have made a conscious decision to not buy my kids tech gadgets.

My experience and observation are the parents who buy their kids all this stuff are lazy, and don't want to deal with their kids. The dependence on devices is evident in their children's behavior as well. Just look around the restaurants and dinner tables locally.

Barb S. said...

As a teacher the integration of technology has been mostly beneficial, particularly due to the larger number of students in the classroom. But, it is one more thing for the teacher to have to manage now.

Anonymous said...

Without question, my greatest fear of going back to school was navigating today's technology. As a student teacher, I'm evaluated on my ability to integrate technology into the classroom. My student teaching mentor is a highly effective and experienced educator at a private school which is also implementing Common Core Standards albeit without heavy-handed bureaucratic oversight. At the high school level, the private school system I'm student teaching with assigns all students laptops. However, while accessible, at the elementary level the use of technology is mostly limited to changing the colors of sum and distributive property numbers on a Promethium board and using some gadget that is nothing more than an updated version of an overhead projector. The majority of students I work with are above grade level based on every measure of national and state standardized testing methods learning the basics a decidedly traditional way. One of my favorite educational websites is Khan Academy which teaches the principles of fundamental math on a virtual black board with white chalk. The latest rage in elementary science education is something called "inquiry learning" which is nothing more than experimental hands-on learning through old-fashioned discovery like digging up indigenous rocks found in your backyard and pouring dirty water through things like pebbles and coffee filters in an effort to make it cleaner.

Alicia

Anonymous said...

Here's how I see it:

Today's professional dancers and athletes perform better than previous generations due - in part - to technological advances made in exercise science, medicine and nutrition. However, the advantages of these advances are mostly limited to those who have already reached an elite skill level and really don't affect those trying to master the basics. Learning fundamental ballet still requires standing at the barre in first position in a room with a knowledgable teacher.

Interesting information about the Waldorf School.

Alicia

Anonymous said...

@Candy Cane the article you cited left out salient points of the study. The study's results were that if you were multi-tasking or distracted you did poorly. they did not control for different types of learners or many other variables. a poor study at best.

Anonymous said...

Never have American students had it so easy, and never have they achieved less. Educators take note.

Sammy said...

We are in the process of raising the dumbest, most narcissistic, self obsessed and socially inept generation.

Anonymous said...

Grades are usless when they cannot be posted. Thanks for following up on the PowerSchool mess Ann. Nice reporting.

Anonymous said...

This is such a diversion (as saif previously). We DO NOT NEED technology in schools until possibly High School. Just something else to blame!

Tamara said...

Interesting comments today.

As one from the "older" generation, it is disconcerting to see young mothers at Target sticking I-phones in their little ones hands to keep them occupied.

God forbid our children have 5 minutes of time at home, school,in the car or at the store without a gadget to entertain them.

Anonymous said...

Ann, I am curious if you do not want your child to use an iphone or ipad at school, or don't want to purchase them one, can a parent opt out of the BYOT program? I have heard about all of the problems the schools are having keeping children on task and off of inappropriate material. I would consider this a constant distraction for the kids.

Anonymous said...

computers are one tool in the tool box. Private schools will always do better then public. Smaller classes, parent and child involvement is better, private schools are usually little communities on to themselves. The environment is better for education. I went to private and public schools. I would say the teaching is the same. It is the motivation of students and the parents pushing them that made the difference. Behavior and exceptions of students was the same in school and home was understood.

Anonymous said...

I agree with some comments as technology is one tool in the bag. It has its use in future educational needs. I would say a fraction 25 to 35 percent possibly. Kids still need to add on a piece of paper if needed and read a book occasionally. Can they have a conversation with a work partner to solve a problem? Talk with a lender regarding financing a business idea? Defend themselves in the court of law? Buy insurance from a agent not Obama? Go grocery shopping and cook a meal? Survive when the power goes down which is regular in Charlotte? For the parents who cannot supply a device I recommend not smoking or drinking alcohol for a few weeks and provide for your children. Their are no more excuses for kids not having a device. Keith W. Hurley

Robert T. said...

Keith Hurley, I can afford devices for my children but I choose not to buy them. they do not need them. The notion that my first grader needs an I-phone to learn at school is ludicrous.

Just look around, it's like "crack" to a kid, they become dependent on them, they become lazy learners and socially incompetent people. I do not appreciate CMS telling me that I have to buy my children technology, especially because they are young. I am philosophically opposed to it and know in my gut that it is unnecessary in their lives right now and not going to make them smarter. They have plenty of time later in life to become skilled computer users. By the way, I work in the IT field.

Anonymous said...

Robert T., some of what you say I agree with. However , you prove my point from prior post. My name is Keith W. Hurley so communication on your end was not to par. I use technology in probably 70 percent of my daily life. Do I love it ? Probably I would say not 100 percent. Is it required to perform in a business society ? YES !! Do I like grown ups not looking we're they are walking downtown while I enter a building? NO , I am the first one to hold the door shut until they look up to wonder why the door won't open. I teach the lazy a lesson in life. Focus and communicate will never leave us. Public education for the future is going to include some form of technology just to enter the building. Embrace it , enjoy it since your income is driven by technology. Look at your current state of health insurance in regards to our government. They have no clue how to develop a website. I bet I could find ten kids from CMS that could have helped Washington develop a page to deliver insurance direct to consumer? Keith W. Hurley

Robert T. said...

Mr. Hurley, Sadly, you have missed my point completely. I use technology, I like technology, I work with technology. But I do not agree with our school system insisting that young elementary aged children (like my kids) have I-pads and I-phones. It is irresponsible to say the least. I would say that it is more appropriate to let older students use this sort of technology at school, when they can responsibly use it, say in high school. There is no data that cites that young children learn more using tech devices, sorry to burst your tech bubble.

Ann Doss Helms said...

4:45, I don't think anyone is forced to purchase/send their own devices, but I also don't think you can opt out of having your children use classroom technology. I think CMS would say that's just part of the instructional day, so your kids can't skip it any more than you can say you don't want them to write on paper or use books.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that since the advent of the computer/tech use in schools, our scores have decreased and ADHD has increased.

ex teacher said...

Technology is a great teaching tool. With that said, I agree that too much time for any student in front of a screen at school is not beneficial. With the increased class sizes and new Common core curriculum the students will unfortunately be spending more and more time in front of a screen during school hours.

Anonymous said...

Robert T, unfortunately I have not missed your point as you have none. My only conclusion is homeschool your children and keep them away from society and all the technology advices it offers. Good luck finding work when they turn of age as it will be catch up game. My children will however need someone to clean their house so maybe drop them a line. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

5:21
"Private schools will always do better then public.
Smaller classes, parent and child involvement is better, private schools are usually little communities on to themselves. The environment is better for education. I went to private and public schools. I would say the teaching is the same. It is the motivation of students and the parents pushing them that made the difference. Behavior and exceptions of students was the same in school and home was understood".

My father is a retired public school superintendent with a PhD from Columbia University and a law degree from UConn. His upbringing included attending a one room schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania with no electricity and no running water. My children spent half of their schooling in CMS (Smithfield Elementary, Endhaven Elementary and South Charlotte Middle School) and half of their schooling attending private schools (Charlotte Christian School and the Mecklenburg Area Catholic School System). I don't think it's fair or accurate to demonize public schools with such broad statements. I never - in a million years -thought I would ever consider private schooling as an option for my children. However, I never - in a million years - thought I would ever experience the educational complexities associated with CMS. Choosing between CMS and private schooling (and now charter) isn't that simple. I raised two children with two very different educational needs. One of my children was classified as gifted in CMS. My other child received special education services through CMS starting in kindergarten after the MACS system rejected him for having a learning disability (dyslexia) the same year I served as PTO president at St. Ann's Catholic School. Having my child rejected at a private elementary school the same year I served as PTO president was absolutely devastating. 12 years later, MACS now serves children with moderate learning disabilities including self contained classrooms for children with Downs Syndrome. Charlotte Christian also provides limited EC services at additional cost.

My point:
What's "better" for one child may not necessarily be what's "better" for another child. I'm immensely grateful for the education my children received while attending CMS. Yes, there are certain advantages to attending private school but to paint a broad brush that private schools are "always better" simply isn't true. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

I served as a host mom for a student at Northwest School of the Arts in 2011 - 2012 who was thrown out of his home for being gay and was classified as a McKinny Vinto student (the legal term for a student who is homeless). Last Thanksgiving, I was the unsuspecting recipient of a charitable food drive held at this school which was funny - living in a neighborhood composed of doctors, lawyers and bankers - but not so funny when I looked at the face of this particular student standing in my "gourmet" kitchen with a cardboard box filled with a turkey, canned cranberries and a package of instant potatoes. If you ever get a chance to walk into the halls of NWSA, I encourage you to look up at a Senior class ceiling tile which reads "This school saved my life".

So, no. Private schools may have advantages but they are not - in and of themselves - necessarily "better".

Alicia

Anonymous said...

agree with you Alicia. But what the private schools have for the most part is a better learning environment and smaller classes.

Anonymous said...

A one room school house had no government, no Obama, Mcory or Tillis. A teacher, students and parent support. Much like private schools. The school of the Arts is selective and not open to all. Students need to audition to get in. Like some private schools. It has very involved supportive patents.. The sad thing is I know a great, talented teacher who had left that school because of low teacher pay and a better opportunity up north.



Anonymous said...

3:14
The gay son I never had was one of 32 NWSA students who were recipients of this school's 2011 charitable Thanksgiving food drive. The government didn't provide this meal - students and parents at NWSA did. If I had to wager a bet, I'd bet that all the Christian schools in the greater Charlotte area combined didn't educate 32 McKinney Vento (homeless) students in 2011. Praise be to God that "selective" NWSA did.

Merry Christmas.

Alicia