All United South Central Elementary School students are learning the basics of how to operate a computer, even the kindergartners.
As more early childhood programs use computers, Internet access and other digital technologies, teachers often look for examples of adapting and integrating these new technologies to enhance children's learning.
Even with the general public's expressed unease about students' digital diets, schools across the country are intensifying efforts to use technology in the classroom, according to Kim Stevermer.
Stevermer, who is in charge of the elementary computer curriculum, agrees children tend to gravitate towards technology and without knowing the basics they could be far behind the learning curve.
At USC, students as young as Kindergarten are being taught basic computer skills.
"Here at USC we use computers every day," Stevermer says. "It helps save time having the younger kids learn how to operate basic programs early on so when they need to use the computer they know what to do."
Stevermer teaches a K-6 computer technology class every other day for 25 minutes at the USC elementary school.
Her main focus is to teach basic keyboarding skills, general function computer skills and to discuss online safety.
In kindergarten, the children work mainly with mouse skills. They are also taught how to save work in a drawing program.
In first grade, the students learn how to log-in and out of the computer (which in itself can be a full day lesson). They also receive an introduction as to what Microsoft Word is.
"I will be having the first graders prepare a one-page slide show as well," Stevermer explains. "Every opportunity I get I try to relate it back to what they are learning in the classroom. For example, last year the kids did a one-page slide show on the life cycle of a frog."
Second-graders focus more heavily on Microsoft Word. They also are introduced to researching specific material online.
In third grade, the students start their keyboarding program.
"After taking some classes of my own, I realized I need to spend a lot of time on the keyboard," Stevermer says. "How do I?expect them to type if they don't even know the keyboard?"
Third-graders also get introduced to Microsoft Excel.
In fourth grade, Stevermer teaches the students to save files and projects onto a flashdrive; they also continue to sharpen their researching skills and continue mastering the keyboard.
Fifth-graders are introduced to iMovie and how it works. The hope is the fifth-graders are now decent typers and know where the letters are on the keyboard.
In sixth grade, the students goal is to be able to type 30-words-per-minute. Also, they are to type their science fair report, with some direction from Stevermer.
"Last year I had the sixth- graders choose any topic they wanted to do a PowerPoint presentation on,"Stevermer says. "The students loved it and gave them freedom to be creative."
This will be the second year Stevermer has met with the K-6 kids every other day.
There is a big difference in the skills being carried over from year to year, according to Stevermer.
"It seems these kids are benefitting and building valuable skills for the future," she says. "The new building will have iPads and the students will be able to pick it up and just go."