“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
“Our challenge is to meet the needs of our students who are part of the wired generation by using technology as a tool to provide engaging and motivating learning and teaching opportunities for all students,” was the closing sentence in my autumn 2012 letter. Since that time students, staff and parents have been involved in helping plan further integration of student-centered technology.
Technology Integration Outcome
The overall purpose of this initiative is to develop students’ skills and to provide conditions for students to learn whatever they need to learn whenever they need to learn. In order to achieve this outcome, students will need access to technology without constraints on time and location.
Enhancing Technology Integration Goals
Four goals have been identified, as follows:
- Curriculum Content: Students master content and they understand and apply content at higher levels such as creating, evaluating and analyzing.
- Communication and Collaboration: Students communicate and collaborate to reach a common goal and/or to create a product.
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: Students apply knowledge and skills to solve real world problems through the use of critical thinking.
- Creativity and Innovation: Students develop unique ideas and create products by applying critical thinking, research strategies, communication tools, and collaborative processes.
Student and teacher indicators have been developed to further specify the achievement of each of these goals.
Planning for Implementing Enhanced Technology Integration
The planning team has targeted grades 4-8 students in the first phase to receive a laptop device to use at school and home. Clusters of tablets will be available to grades PreK-3 students to use at school in the second phase. The hardware and some software will be leased for a three or four-year period in order to stay within the budgetary parameters. Groups of students, parents and teachers currently are testing laptop devices to identify which best meets students’ needs and is cost effective.
Training staff is critical to a successful implementation. Angela Anthony, a current teacher, is collaborating with teachers to create and implement a comprehensive professional development plan. She is familiar with the curriculum, staff and students which strengthens our training program. Continuous relevant and job-embedded training will be provided, which has proven to maximize full implementation of newly learned teaching practices.
Once the technology devices have been identified, leasing options will be explored to determine the best approach to secure the devices in a fiscally responsible manner. The infrastructure will need minor upgrades to accommodate all of the computers. In September 2014 students and parents will receive the device and pay a technology fee to insure and support the devices. I will provide updates throughout the year on this exciting initiative.
Expanding Communication Tools
We are continually searching for ways to improve communication with our Benjamin District 25 families. Parents were asked what other communication tools should be utilized and they overwhelmingly favored Facebook. Consequently, a district Facebook page is being launched during the month of October. Access our Benjamin School District 25 Facebook by logging on to Facebook at www.facebook.com/BenjaminDistrict25 and be sure to LIKE the page to receive occasional news about the district in your newsfeed.
Philip M. Ehrhardt, Ed.D.