The Disconnected Student

Today was my third day of school and things have been running smoothy. Today was a busy day with my students. Teaching five hours of language arts is exhausting, but I am up for the challenge. My students were engaged today in our computer labs establishing their gmail accounts and becoming members of our classroom Wiki space where they could start their short biographies and we could start organizing the space for their e-portfolios. Like any other technology endeavor, we ran into glitches, but we overcame them.

As I was getting things started in my first language arts class of the day, I asked students to raise their hand if they did not possess an email at all. Out of my five classes of 20 or more students, I had at least 2 students in each class raise their hand. Now, I am not a math teacher but that comes to about 14% of my students who do not interact using email. Then, after I thought about it, I asked the student who doesn’t have Internet access at home. Those statistics ranged at about 20%. Being that I teach in a very rural school district and our district has almost 1/2 the student population on free or reduced lunch, I am sure this plays a significant role in the students not being able to go online. Some people might think it is due to the fact my school is a small district. This isn’t always the case though. At my wife’s previous school, which is three times the size of mine, there are a significant number of students who were not connected to the Internet at home; somewhere in 30% range. That information was based on a survey the school gave to the kids.

After I had the chance to decompress today, I began to wonder if these students were going to struggle for the rest of their student careers. I see having an email, like every household having a VCR once upon a time. My belief is kids are going to need these tools to be successful not only as a student, but in the real world. The other side of me knows I need to be compassionate towards these students and help them get caught up, or at least get them closer to what technology does have to offer. In addition, I know their are more of these students out there.

Let’s make sure we all understand our student’s background and work on helping them get connected with those of us that have been for some time. Because let’s face it, there are disconnected students out there.

Cheers!

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