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MANTECA, Calif. (KTXL) — More students in our community are heading back to school this week, and many are returning to classes with better technology.

Tech-savvy lesson plans created during the COVID-19 pandemic could be here to stay.

Seth Lee, a math teacher at Stella Brockman Elementary in Manteca, told FOX40 one of the lessons learned from nearly 20 years of teaching is students like screens. 

After a mostly virtual year in 2020 and 2021, instead of competing for his kids’ attention, he’s encouraging them to go all-in with digital tools. 

It was not a huge leap. All students in the Manteca Unified School District had a take-home computer before the pandemic. 

But, Lee said he didn’t push the boundaries of what was possible and still did a lot with pencils, paper and a whiteboard. He was prompted to dive more deeply into digital tools during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and this year he’s going all in.

“Today, we’re going to play a game it’s going to test our prior knowledge, and other days it will be used as homework, it will be used as simple review, something fun,” Lee explained. There will be days where I’ll say ‘OK we’re going to do and use this tech, and it’s a self-guided day.”

Admittedly, Lee is in a good position to make this happen. He just earned his master’s degree in education with science, engineering, technology and math from Teachers College of San Joaquin.

Still, he thinks it would be a missed opportunity for teachers who became more tech-savvy through virtual learning, not to continue and build upon those gains.

At the same time, he said there are things more important than gadgets. 

“It’s the most amazing thing to use technology in the classroom to improve your teaching through it, but if it draws you back as a teacher, maybe that’s something you don’t need and that’s okay,” Lee shared.