Yes, you DO have to type your final draft.

I completed my student teaching experience at a low-income inner city high school. The school had a bad reputation for having a high gang population and “bad” kids. So, when I first announced my student teaching placement on Facebook, I was not surprised that most of my friends’ comments revolved around the reputation. One friend even joked that I should buy a bullet proof vest.

They were wrong. That school had some of the nicest kids. When I walked down the hall carrying a heavy box of books, a student I didn’t know offered to carry it to class for me. This happened on multiple occasions, with multiple students.

Needless to say, I had a fabulous student teaching year. My CT (cooperating teacher) was excellent, and taught me a lot about the importance of setting high expectations for all students. Most of our kids were English Language Learners (a.k.a. ELL’s) and were of low socioeconomic backgrounds. There have been many studies done on students who grow up in a low-income household, which you can read about here.

We required the students to create a poetry portfolio early in the second semester. I expected the final draft of the portfolio to be typed, so we spent a week in the computer lab. Many of the students did not finish typing their portfolios during the allotted class time, and as a result the final scores for the portfolios were lower than I would have liked.

While reflecting on the unit in one of my seminar classes, one of my peers suggested that by requiring the portfolio to be typed, I set the students up for failure. He pointed out that because most of my students are of a low socioeconomic background, I should not expect them to use the computers at school – especially if they do not have computers at home. After all, how could they finish the assignment without a home computer?

His response reinforced my belief that bringing computers into the classroom is vital to student success. If the students do not have computers at home, then where else will they develop the technological skills they will need as adults?

The middle school I work at now has a very similar population to the high school I just described. While I have had to spend more time teaching basic computer skills (such as how to save files to a USB drive, how to copy and paste, and how to use Google), the students are much more motivated when using the computers.

Besides, the public library provides free internet access after school and on the weekends. Since when has it become inappropriate to expect students to do something or go somewhere educational outside of school?

7 Responses

  1. Misty

    I agree with the idea that yes, it is not unreasonable to require a student to have to go somewhere outside of school in order to complete an assignment; however, I think there are other factors that also need to be taken into consideration. While public libraries, as well as most schools, offer computer and Internet use, it is not always that simple to tell a student that his/her parent needs to get them to the library to finish an assignment, especially if the student needs the parent to drive. Unfornuately, not all parents are dedicated to helping their children to succeed in school, and often times, it falls to the teacher. I think the best thing we can do is to know our students and their needs and to offer them as many alternatives as possible in order for them to be successful. By having the computers in the classroom, you are providing a great experience for those students without the resources at home.

    • Log In to Literacy

      Yes, and I agree that it can be difficult for some of our students to get to the library, however the school library is open to our students before school and during lunch, and I also try to provide ample time for the kids to finish typing their project in class. I’ve also noticed that the kids who do not finish tend to be off task more often than not.

  2. Karin Trujillo

    Ha ha……they were offering to carry your box of books cause you looked young enough to be one of them……

    On the subject of requiring typed papers……we ARE NOT setting them up for failure. Rather…..setting them up to suceed in the world of work that we hope they strive for. By not setting high expectations……we are doing a great disservice to our awesome students.

    I have had a similar experience going from a medium SES to our middle school this year. I have found it to be an exceptional experience. Sometimes the grass is GREENER on the other side of the river! 🙂

  3. Angelia Landavazo

    Love your drive to motivate both students and teachers. As a teacher who is constantly playing keep up with technology, I do understand the need for the constant push. You are absolutely correct in your statement: “where else will they develop the technology skill s they will need as adults”. Our responsibility as educators never ceases to expand, but there is strength in embracing the new “jobs” passed our way. We all knew when we entered the world of teaching that it is a constantly changing job. So . . . technology is the new frontier that teachers must embrace in order to prepare our students for success in their adult world.

    By the way, I am very glad that you have joined our team of teachers! We are definitely stronger with you as a member.

Leave a Reply