Our school is a “junior high,” which means that the student population is 7th through 9th grade, rather than the traditional “middle school,” that is 6th through 8th grade. Roughly 800 students attend this school each year, and 100% of those students receive free and reduced lunches. The area that the school is located in particular, has a very high population of refugees from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. This translates into a fairly high number of students who are English Language Learners, some having only been in the country for a year or less.
Our school also hosts a number of students with particularly hard home lives that derive from the foster care system or forms of abuse that happen within the home; because of this, many students struggle to find motivation within the classroom, and often times display behaviors of hopelessness or acting out.
Our students are eager when it comes to technology, and because of our demographics, we don't always necessarily have the tools to integrate technology in our classroom. As students growing up in the 21st century, they need to be prepared to use a variety of tools to engage in their world.
Despite the heavy shift and emphasis on technology in today’s world, students know very little about educational technological resources. This problem has negatively impacted ELA students competency in the Common Core State Standards, such as CCSS W.7.6, “Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and link to and cite sources as well as to interact and collaborate with others, including linking to and citing sources; [and] Include multimedia components and visual displays in presentations to clarify claims and findings and emphasize salient points,” or standard CCSS SL.7.5, “Include multimedia components and visual displays in presentations to clarify claims and findings and emphasize salient points” (“Idaho State,” n.d.). In order to accomplish these standards, students must have access to devices to research, draft, edit and publish papers and presentations. With a significant lack of devices, it is difficult to gain access to tech that can more efficiently teach these standards, and help to prepare our students for their future endeavors in college or the workforce.
Additionally, there are many technological resources available for students to help with other curriculum based content, such as a vocabulary website or the Quill website, that cannot be accessed by our students and teachers due to a significant need for additional devices.
These sites provide students with diagnostics and personalized/differentiated lessons to aid them with vocabulary and grammar, in conjunction with provided instructions with data and suggestions to best help student learning and growth. These sites do not work effectively unless used consistently, and with a lack of access to technology in our building it is difficult to incorporate these programs.
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