Why the technology levy matters

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I started my teaching career at Ruder Elementary in 1995. I have always felt fortunate to be a part of the School District 6 team and of the Columbia Falls community where a solid education is valued. In my 22 years, I have seen our district grow and change with the times, with some of the more obvious changes being the addition of and continual upgrades to technology.

Technology, whether we like it or not, is our present and our future. Our students are “digital natives” and do not understand an existence without technology.

It is our job as a district to make sure our students are prepared to enter a work force where they will most likely need to have technological skills. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 50 percent of jobs today require computer skills and it is anticipated that number will rise to 77 percent in the next 10 years. As educators, we are charged to use technology to prepare our students for jobs that have not yet been created. We truly do not know where the future will lead. If we want our students to be competitive for these future careers, our schools need to keep pace with technology in the real world.

If you were to walk in to most any elementary classroom in our district today, you would find an interactive white board mounted to the wall. These Interwrite boards were added about 10 years ago and they have opened up our instruction to new possibilities. They can act as a second monitor to display what is on a connected computer screen allowing teachers to share a quick science video on the process of making energy, for instance. We use Interwrite boards to display the same math papers students are working on and we can work out the problems with them.

We use them to develop slide shows on topics of study or to display the slide shows students have created to share their learning. The problem is that our Interwrite boards are not working well anymore. I play a game with my students most days, I say “What are the odds that our board will work today?” They give me 50-50 at best. Many teachers have not been able to use their boards at all this year. Our 21st century learners have grown accustomed to digital learning and are more engaged when we use the interactive boards. Our lessons are more up-to-date as well.

What you could also expect to see is students in many classrooms learning computer coding skills. We have students as young as first grade being introduced to the basics of block coding. Our fifth graders are actually learning how to write computer code. One student in my class has been developing and writing his own computer games.

These are all skills that will serve them well in future endeavors.

I am urging you to please vote yes on the upcoming technology levy! Part of this funding would go toward upgrading to new interactive boards as well as replacing old computers and laptops. We need your support to give our students all the advantages this modern society demands.

Sherri Nissen

Fifth grade teacher, Ruder Elementary

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