I work in a Title 1 school with over 60% of our students receiving free and reduced lunch. I tell you this to you a glimpse into the economic status of many of our families.
Our families must make difficult decisions with where they spend their money, like so many of us. It is not easy for our families to find the money in their monthly budget to spring for a tablet or other device for their kids to bring to school to use in the classroom.
We are a byot school, and freely encourage our students to bring their technology. But, when a family is forced to make decisions between a tablet and other basic needs, buying a tablet for their child is not a priority. Our parents are very supportive of their child's education, so it is up to us to showcase that these devices are beneficial for learning.
So, how do we do it? How can teachers demonstrate to the parents that it is worth it for them to make the sacrifice to invest in these 'extras' when they have so many other needs?
- Instruct Using a Student-Centered Model
When a classroom is predominantly student-centered, the students are more in charge of their learning. They are researching, creating, and demonstrating their learning in ways of their choosing. Having their own device to accomplish these activities can illustrate to the parents how their purchase benefits their child.
- Share the Work with the World
Instead of having students create for the audience in the room, invite the world to see the great things that the students are doing. Utilizing tools such as VoiceThread, blogs, and Skype, allows students the opportunity to engage authentic audiences in reviewing and supporting their classwork.
- Pique Your Students' Natural Curiosity
Curiosity is a quality related to inquisitive thinking such as exploration, investigation, and learning. When our students are curious about the world they live in, they want to learn more and more about everything around them. When our classrooms cultivate this curiosity in our students, the desire will still burn at home, providing evidence to our families of the benefits of purchasing these learning tools.
When we provide our students with opportunities to show their parents that this decision is worth it, the parents will find a way. It is up to us, as educators, to create this environment for our students each and every day.