University Hill, a Spanish and English bilingual elementary school in Boulder Colorado, recently integrated more technology into its classes. One 5th grade class started to use Chromebooks regularly and by the end of the school year, the school secured another classroom set of Chromebooks, two iPads, two SMART Boards, and several recording devices with headphones.
Being able to use international keyboards on the Chromebooks is critical for bilingual students, said fifth grade teacher Elizabeth Jette.
“Taking the time to become efficient at typing in Spanish and holding everyone accountable is an important part of elevating the status of Spanish in our bilingual learning community,” said Jette.
Access to technology at home varies by student, depending on whether their family can afford it. Teachers also noticed that over time, segregation in class due to the native language learning model naturally caused the kids to self-segregate on the playground and during lunch breaks.
Jette decided to establish a tech club to help with more than just access to technology.
The club gives native Spanish and native English speaking students opportunities to work together on projects like making videos on iMovie or teaching younger students how to effectively use technology. The result was better than expected.
“The tech team did wonders for kids to be integrated,” said Ayon. “The technology really empowered a lot of our Latino students.”
Members of the tech club share what they learn with their peers and other teachers.
“Students also really respond to teachers who want to learn technology with them, rather than only teaching it to them,” said Jette. “This shared approach seemed very motivating for students because it gave them the opportunity to learn as a group, as well as do some peer teaching and teaching their teacher.”
Jette found that first modeling technology and then allowing students to physically work with it is the best method of teaching technology competency. Having this skill set, she says, is critical in such a globalized world.