Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tech Surveys & the Digital Divide

I've been doing a lot of thinking about my first day in the classroom. In my own classroom! It's exciting, to be sure, but I am also aware that the first day will set the tone right away for the climate of my classroom. I hope that the kids will be able to tell just how excited and honored I am to be able to be their English teacher for the upcoming school year. I am also giving lots of thought to the best ways to get to know my students.

I've planned on giving out some surveys, most particularly the survey found in Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer, which is an excellent tool for gathering what your students like to read, how much they read, and gives some insight into their interests so that you can better tailor your book suggestions to each student. I also plan on giving out a general interest survey, and maybe a learning styles inventory, just to help me get a better picture of each student as an individual and the class as a whole.

One survey that I think will be crucial is a technology survey that I developed while student teaching. My student teaching assignment was in my home town, which is decidedly rural. Because of this, I had no doubt that there would be some students who would not have access to technology outside of school, and I was correct. However, I don't think that this is strictly a rural issue. With all the talk of flipped classrooms and their merit, and directing people to find us on social media sites the way that we used to hand out business cards, it can be easy to forget that there is still very much a digital divide and that not every student has access to these resources.

The tech survey allows for students to be able to share their access to technology with me before it ever becomes an issue; for example, if I gave an assignment where my students were required to use the internet and I wanted them to do some of it over the weekend, it would be potentially embarrassing for a student with no internet access to have to come and tell me this and ask for provisions. I would rather know right up front, so that I can seamlessly incorporate another option for students who don't have access to the necessary technology.

Anyone who knows me knows what a tech geek I am - I love technology and I especially love what these innovations can mean for student learning; however, I would advise using sensitivity where this is concerned, because having no computer or having the wrong phone has become to our students what the wrong pair of shoes or the wrong brand of jeans was when I was in school. The admission and public knowledge of not having internet access could be potentially embarrassing for a middle grades student. The tech survey is a more private way that my students can let me know that they may need some other options if a take-home tech assignment should arise.

The survey is linked below; feel free to use and share!

Enjoy your Sunday :-)

Technology Survey