City students in One Laptop Per Child pilot show off their XO laptops.
City students in ## Laptop Per Child## pilot show off their XO laptops.

Ruben took his Bronx fourth graders to the computer lab to have them do internet research for a biography project.

One of my students said to me, “I’ve never been on a computer before.” Can you imagine? 2008 and right here in New York City there are kids growing up without regular access to technology [we] take for granted.

The technology-in-education folks buzz about using technology in schools in really innovative ways, attempting to avoid simply transferring pen and paper tasks to a keyboard and monitor, and they’re absolutely right — new communication tools offer new opportunities for “digital natives” to synthesize information, think critically about sources, and use multimedia to participate in an authentic global conversation. But it’s sobering when thinking about these so-called 21st century skills to realize that some students in our classrooms have yet to reach the end of the 20th century in terms of the communication tools they use regularly.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.