Integrating technology into the classroom can bring more opportunities to the learning experience.  Technology can and should be an enabler to enhance the educational experience of our students.  

This does not mean buying laptops or iPads for each child, declaring victory and calling it a day.  We should not have technology for technology’s sake.  Instead, we should look for appropriate ways to leverage technology to improve the educational experience for each child.

We should identify best practices in this area, and determine what will work best in our district at each grade level.  I suggest first piloting technology integration in a couple of classrooms.  These should be led by early adopter teachers in concert with principals and the district administration.  After determining what programs are successful, we should expand them to more classrooms.  I believe that technology can be a key learning  tool in the classroom, but we do need to make sure that it is implemented in a responsible and effective manner. 

We also need to evaluate our current strategy for technology use in our curriculum.   Are we using the technology that we do have appropriately?  It seems to me that we should focus our use of technology toward two goals.  The first is to leverage the artificial intelligence of computers to deliver an enhanced and more individualized educational experience to each child.  For example, we should look at math programs that can work with each child at their individual level, so that the child who needs help learning his or her multiplication tables can have one experience, while another child who is ready for division can move on to that.  Ultimately, technology can be a tool to assist in differentiated learning so that we are challenging each child in our school district appropriately. 

The second goal for technology should be to teach basic computer skills, as appropriate at each grade level.  To my knowledge we do not as a district have technology curriculum or standards (e.g. typing, creating and saving documents, and whatever other basic computer/technology skills that we feel our students should have.)  I would like to see such standards implemented.

We should not, in my opinion, use computers in areas that can be better taught with traditional methods.  For example, rather than having kids use KidPix to create a math equation, we can give them cubes or other manipulatives.  Rather than having a child who can’t yet type use the “hunt and peck” method to type out sentences using their spelling words, have them write the spelling words with a pencil and paper and spend the computer time learning to type.

In summary, I believe that the District needs to look at best practices for bringing technology into the classroom, and develop a strategic plan to implement effective technology use in the classroom.  We should evaluate whether pulling elementary school students out of the classroom to go to computer lab is a good use of time and a good practice in the long run (many forward-thinkers believe that computer labs are outdated, and that technology is most effective when integrated into the classroom experience itself.)  We live in the heart of Silicon Valley -- our school district should be well-positioned to take on this worthwhile endeavor!