The Digital Educator 2 - Page 13

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introduction to the Buffalo Public Schools website and Parent Portal, and English language links.

BPS Instructional Technology Coach, Heather DiGiacomo and Library Media Specialist, Isabella Keegan taught the students and their families selected computer basics skills. Additional training for this project was provided by CFC partners at the WASH Project and The International Institute at Buffalo. Signs of the program’s success are beginning to appear already in one sixth grade class at BPS #45. According to DiGiacomo, “On the sixth grade teacher’s website, one student in her class participated in the pilot program. On her Teacher page, she provided the students’ homework assignments, content-centered websites, digital issues of magazines and weekly readers. Evidence of the usage of these resources can be found in the Homework page and ELA pages.”

For so many generations, children have brought new skills to their households through the schools as part of assimilation and lifestyle. This project is one more of those venerable collaborations that will raise communication capabilities and impart useful skills in bridging gaps and removing barriers between school and home." - Dr. Pamela Brown, Superintendent, BPS

"Technology is not going away and as our Buffalo School District moves closer to utilizing online web systems for administration, online registration, homework assignments, and teacher/parent communication. We see this digital literacy and access gap as a serious problem for our community. Many of the other school districts are already up and running with a parent portal. The Buffalo Public School District now has one in place. "The key is awareness, training, and access,” states Christine Carr, executive director of Computers For Children, “however, the city’s challenges are different and unique than the other school districts with the barriers of language, culture, literacy, and economics that require creative solutions to support training that brings schools and homes closer together.”

Most of us take for granted a broadband connection to the Internet. According to recent surveys in the City of Buffalo, nearly 60% of our homes and 40% of school age children do not have a computer in the home and are not connected to the Internet. -Source: Computers for Children

Recent survey results reinforce what we at Computers For Children have been striving to accomplish over the past fifteen years: helping to bring schools, youth and homes closer and bridging the divide; kids lead the way. “In all of the study environments it was most effective when parents and youth were placed together for the trainings,” said Carr. Mitchell additionally, “Having worked with the Burmese/ Karen [kuh-ren] population in the recent past on ESL instruction and community adaptation, the need was obvious. We have thousands of refugees resettled on the West Side of Buffalo adjusting to life in our city, becoming a part of our community, and most importantly- adapting to our education system.”

“Many of the families we worked with had never placed their hands on a keyboard or a mouse, so it was interesting to observe how a tool that has become such a vital part of our everyday lives had just been introduced to theirs. I'm excited to see the long term effects of this program.” - Genna Mitchell

As this program moves forward, our goal to continue to help more families receive the same instruction and make that connection with their children’s teachers. And at the same time, help refugee families as a whole increase their digital literacy so that they have the same opportunity as every other US citizen to realize success.