Computer Instructor, Templeton Elementary School, Templeton, CA
When your principal refers to you as “the biggest game changer on our campus, by far,” it’s easy to see why Txe Kolstad was one of our 2014 Leaders of the Year. On the job for only one year, Kolstad took Templeton’s computer program from a basic room to one in which every student has a meaningful and purposeful experience. She knows all of her 585 preK, kindergarten, 1st-, and 2nd-grade students by name and creates a differentiated technology experience for each child that’s based on their interests, skill level, and personality. Kolstad has changed the way her fellow teachers view technology, and shifted computer skills from being a prep period for teachers to being one of the most engaging parts of the week.
She’s done all of this in just two years, and one more thing: she works part time and sees each student for only 30 minutes per week.
“At my previous district, I taught 1st and 2nd grade, but when I came here I wanted to teach computer skills,” says Kolstad. She found a terrific curriculum guide online and believed that even her youngest students could learn to type in Word and create PowerPoint presentations. “Some teachers were skeptical at first, but at the end of the year they all saw that our students could type sentences, insert images, and do lots more.”
The 1st- and 2nd- grade students made PowerPoint presentations that parents viewed at Open House. They used microphones to record their voices and learned how to use flash drives. Kindergarteners use Word to create documents, and everyone is learning how to use Dropbox to name, save, and open files. One of Kolstad’s next projects is exposing her 2nd-grade classes to Google Maps.
“During Open House, Kolstad’s lab was the most visited room on our campus,” says Principal Jill Southern. “When the school board president saw the line with hundreds of people, he asked what they were waiting for. I emphatically stated, ‘Txe Kolstad teaches 585 kids a week, and every one of them is excited about technology and how she challenges them.”
For Kolstad, the joy is in helping students learn necessary skills, such as typing, but also making it fun and challenging. “When I started, the computer lab was where people played games. Now they know they can have fun but also learn. Technology is so important, and they can be more successful if they master these skills.”
Tools She Uses
• Accelerated Reader
• Apple TV
• California Streaming
• Dell Optiplex 755s and other Dell laptops
• Google Docs/Apps
• Google Maps
• Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing
• Microsoft Office
• Read Naturally
• Scholastic News
• School Loop
• Think Central
• Type to Learn Jr.