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Overcoming Student Barriers Through Technology Integration

On February 21st and February 22nd, the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) hosted its annual School2Home Leadership Academy in Downtown Los Angeles. The goal of the Academy is to encourage continued executive school leadership to close both the School Achievement Gap and Digital Divide collaboratively. With support from CETF, Valley Vision assists Leataata Floyd Elementary (LFE) to implement its School2Home program. The school serves the Marina Vista and Alder Grove communities, two public housing projects near downtown Sacramento where residents face significant barriers to upward mobility. The School2Home program provides helps integrate technology in the classroom at the elementary school level, and supports teachers, students and families to improve digital literacy and learning outcomes.

Leataata Floyd Elementary continues to be a one-of-a-kind institution implementing School2Home – being the only school in Sacramento and the only elementary school state wide. As such, LFE has embarked on an ambitious and targeted goal. While at the School2Home Leadership Academy, a myriad of best practices were shared as were opportunities to interact with educational leaders from Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and other schools from across the state.  LFE left the Leadership Academy with a delineated action plan to increase the implementation impact of School2Home as well as a respective self-assessment tool. Some of the targeted actions LFE will be implementing include growing teachers’ capacity to integrate technology into all levels of teaching and learning, as well as using a variety of technology/web based platforms to support teacher collaboration and communication. This means LFE and Valley Vision will be working to implement further support for the teachers, including on-site coaching on the role technology can play in supporting learning outcomes and integrating technology into the way teachers collaborate with each other. Attendees were provided with the opportunity to participate through a web-based back channel. After partaking in this experience, it became clear that teachers can utilize technology in the way they collaborate and communicate with each other, which serves as an effective method to embed technology into school, instead of technology being siloed and compartmentalized, used solely by the students during certain hours.

During the self-assessment using this model, it became clear that LFE is making an effort in the augmentation and redefinition portion of the model with student showcases, but we are still in the initial stages of fully realizing the potential of the model.

Kenneth Shelton, an educator of over 14 years turned Global Keynote Specialist and Educational Technology Strategist for EdTechTeam, provided an inspirational talk. He discussed various pressing issues in the educational system, including the importance of having technology embedded in teaching and a matching rigor that is conscious of equity to ensure the entire potential success technology has to offer is expended. Ultimately, technology has the potential to raise student achievement in unprecedented ways, but these improvements will only come to fruition in the lives of students who are underserved if the teachers are aware of the socio-economic problems some of these students face, and form an instructional rigor that is equitable to these conditions. LFE has taken a step in this direction by implementing trauma-informed training to all teachers and staff, which provides insight to staff on what many students at LFE are facing and how certain traumas can impact student performance.

These are important issues to address and one that LFE and Valley Vision will continue to support in its implementation of School2Home.

Alejandra Gallegos is a Valley Vision Project Associate contributing to the Clean Economy and Healthy Communities strategies.