Small Fingers, Major Tech Skills

8 Feb , 2018  

Small fingers are accomplishing big things in the digital literacy labs in Mansfield City Schools’ elementary buildings.

Children in kindergarten through third grade are learning correct use of computer tablets and desktop computers, including keyboarding skills. Prospect, Sherman, Spanish Immersion and Woodland each have digital literacy labs equipped with desktop units and Google Chromebooks. Springmill STEM Elementary, which has 72 students in kindergarten and first grade, utilizes Chromebooks available from a portable cart.

At Sherman, the district’s largest elementary with an enrollment of 454, Whitney Glorioso supervises the digital literacy lab.

“This is the first year for this position,” said Glorioso, who joined the district’s technology department in 2009 and taught third grade at Sherman last year. “My goal is to make students as technologically self-sufficient as possible so that when they take the third-grade state reading test on Chromebooks they will know what to do. I have every (K-3) class once a week for 40 minutes.”

Matthew Keasal is the digital literacy teacher at Prospect and Woodland; Jeffrey Braumberger fills that role at Springmill STEM and the Spanish Immersion School.

Stephen Rizzo, a former district elementary principal who now is Mansfield City Schools’ chief academic officer, said the K-3 computer instruction is important. “We are excited to be able to allocate staff in this role so that we can provide our youngest students with digital literacy skills,” Rizzo said. “This is the second year that the Ohio Department of Education has required that all testing at all levels be done online, including the third-grade reading test.”

One of the challenges Glorioso has faced is getting young children accustomed to using a mouse and keyboard. “A lot of what they have done is touchscreen and game-related,” she said. “Now they are seeing a keyboarding program that is much more purposed. It is really important that we stick with guided computer practice.”

Last summer Glorioso supplemented the district computers in the Sherman lab with equipment she was able to purchase through DonorsChoose, a national nonprofit funding network that allows individuals, corporations and foundations to select projects they would like to support. DonorsChoose vets all requests. When fully funded, DonorsChoose purchases the requested items and ships them directly to the school.

Glorioso posted her digital literacy needs in May and within a few months she received pledges of more than $800 for equipment that included seven new Fire 7 Tablets, a Polaroid digital camera HD camcorder, a Hamilton Buhl six-station basic CD, AM/FM listening center a VTech Kiizoom action cam and a Kidz digital camera.

“Amazon had everything delivered by early September and the district’s technology department helped get the WiFi figured out,” Glorioso said. “This equipment has been a wonderful addition to the Chromebooks, desktop computers and other equipment provided by the district. I’m not the first to utilize DonorsChoose. Other teachers here have used the site for funds that they wouldn’t otherwise have for things they need.”

According to its web site, DonorsChoose was founded in the Bronx in 2000 and has since had project postings by 77 percent of the nation’s public schools. The nonprofit reports that to date more than 3 million donors have contributed $636 million.

Source, Photo: Mansfield City Schools

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