I teach at a high poverty Title I high school with a large immigrant population in Gaithersburg, MD. 74% of our students have been eligible for free and reduced meals at some point. Many of my students have large gaps in their learning from moving often and being in and out of school.
The majority of kids in my classes come from impoverished backgrounds and face many challenges- jobs after school to help their families, learning new languages, and a lack of access to books and computers at home.
My ESOL Biology students often have limited education in their own language, much less in English, and little experience with using technology.
The students I teach all grew up not far from where I did, so I am aware of the types of struggles they face on a personal level. Parents in our community are incredibly supportive, but many are working, some more than one job, and we simply don't have the kind of PTA participation that leads to raising the supplementary funds wealthier communities can contribute. My kids are bright, hard-working, and deserve to have as many opportunities as can possibly be provided.
My students need to have access to technology on a daily basis to build skills necessary for college and career. Technology helps immensely in supporting ESOL and Special Education students increase their independence in learning. Presently, computers are only available by competing with other classes to sign up for limited computer lab space. The technology we do have is outdated and often doesn't work- my students regularly have to share computers if we can get a spot in a computer lab.
Having computers in our classroom would change the way we can approach nearly every learning experience.
The benefits of having technology available every day in our Science classroom are innumerable: we would be able analyze data for experiments using professional software, learn from interactive simulations of labs which are either too dangerous or too expensive to conduct in real life, build websites, construct electronic presentations, and research the most up-to-date science. Students would be able to practice word processor skills and see spelling and grammatical errors to correct immediately, my ESOL and Special Education students would have the ability to look up words they don't yet know or images to support their learning without slowing down or swallowing their pride to ask for help.
I want more than anything for my students to be prepared for success in the "real world" which they will soon be entering- in order for that to happen they must develop skills applicable to eventually becoming productive members of the workforce. Computer and research skills are vital to that effort and regular use of technology is imperative to our goals.
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