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New High School Thinking: Supt. Mark White

ClarkHall (A)Reviewer: Mark White

Position: Superintendent

District/School: Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools, OH

Number of Students in District: 6,988

Products: Dell Latitude e6420, Dell Optiplex 790 desktops, Cisco Networks

Goals:

The district has implemented a new type of high school, Lincoln High School (GLHS). The unique design of the building was essential to promoting the teaching and learning we envisioned. We are working to break away from the 9-month school year.

Response:

Parents appreciate the progressive approach. Teachers are enthusiastic, but they are also being challenged to keep up with the latest trends in technology and how to use them in this new environment. Teachers are pushing themselves to transform their curriculum. Students appreciate the technology, and learning freedom in their new environment.

Learning Curve:

Our principal, Dwight Carter, did an exemplary job training teachers and pushing them to think in new ways about teaching and learning. The staff is committed and shares the vision.

How We Use It:

Upgrading the technology infrastructure was a priority. A cadre of teachers to led the way. The teachers have bought into the change, but they still need constant support. We’re blending traditional learning and curriculum with a modern approach, so there are some challenges.

What’s Ahead?:

The high school must find ways to move the Clark Hall philosophy to its traditional K-12 building. The district advocates a BYOD philosophy, and it must determine how many students will bring their own devices and how many the district must purchase.

No Shelf Tech Here!

Julio Velasquez Director of Technology

Aaron Allen 5th Grade Math, Social Studies and Reading Teacher

Hempfield Area School District (HASD)

Products: Mimio Interactive Solutions

Tech2We looked for something that wasn’t going to be difficult to install and maintain. After the presentations, we surveyed teachers for their input, and Mimio was their top selection.

District tech did the initial install, but we make updates available on our server, and teachers do those themselves. HASD quickly went from very few technology users to 40%, and then to 80% daily blending of Mimio technology with curriculum delivery. “You never want to purchase shelf technology; Mimio gets a daily workout here; it never sits.

We facilitate the training to make sure the technology is always available, and Mimio has been very supportive with everything from individual teacher help to any technical side trouble shooting issues,” says Velasquez. A recent technology training survey, found that teachers wanted more days to get together to share what they were doing with Mimio in their classrooms, and thought it was one of the most valuable inservice days they’ve ever had.

What you get for the dollar makes sense, especially when comparing Mimio solutions with others out there.

Teachers at HASD create and save lessons using Mimio software and the stylus for building text, highlighting, drawing, group work, moving objects, sequencing, as well as capturing supplemental resources from the Internet. Teachers engage students and instantly assess achievement.

Aaron Allen, a 5th grade math, social studies and reading teacher uses Mimio solutions daily for writing, spelling, and language arts.

TeachWith MimioTeach and a stylus I use math manipulatives, and MimioView takes transparencies out of the equation. Kids manipulate objects for concrete references. In its simplest form it’s a quick whiteboard, but it can quickly become something where kids can click, point, manipulate, move, and see their actions. Learning has become a Web 2.0, game-filled, engaging environment in the classrooms of HASD. It’s as easy as using PowerPoint or Word, and If you want to get more technical, it’s not that difficult to create new worlds of learning. Our reading program is online, so this works beautifully for teaching in ways we couldn’t do before—when it was just on paper. It’s a lot easer—and a time saver with Mimio. The right tools are there when and where you need them.

Agriculture Science Goes Interactive: Byron Ernest

Byron Ernest - SMART Best in TechReviewer: Byron L. Ernest

Position: Department Head Agriculture Science

District/School: Lebanon Community School Corporation, Lebanon High School, IN

Number of Students in District/School: 3,551/1,046

Products: SMART Boards 685 ix/600 UF 65, SMART Response Systems, SMART Notebook software

Goals:

We are designing and developing a learning environment that integrates various technology tools such as interactive white boards, mobile technology, high access technology (laptops) and the applications to Smtfully integrate all technology through the SMART system, enabling highly effective teachers to facilitate high student achievement.

Response:

Everyone is on board with our strategic tech plan. Students have done presentations using the technology for our school board, parents, and community. Students love coming to class and immersing themselves in the educational process through collaborative learning and use of technology.

Learning Curve:

First-round teachers provide support and training, and share lessons. The SWELL Classroom allows for designing each lesson to meet individual student needs. Teacher leaders provide coaching, and we include specially developed administrator training. SMART has tailored specific workshops, too.

How We Use It:

Our interactive agriculture science classroom is equipped with SMART Board technology. In Advanced Life Science students are asked to produce presentations using SMART Notebook and the SMART Boards related to various topics and upload those presentations to group wikis. After review SMART Response systems are used to gage student knowledge.

What’s Ahead?:

Our school is undergoing a renovation that will equip all classrooms like the SWELL Classroom. Additionally, we will have a 24/7 one-to-one computing environment with our students in grades 6-12. 

Evernote Education: Russ Goerend

RussReviewer: Russ Goerend

Position: 6th grade Language Arts

District/School: Waukee / Waukee Middle School, Iowa

Number of Students in District/School: 7,000 / 850

Products: Evernote, Doxie Scanner, smartphone camera



Reviewer's Notes:

I use Evernote because it works so well to create and capture different forms of media (audio, video, images, and text). The basis for the system is to capture student learning, which could be done with different tools.

Goals: 

Documenting student learning in (more) authentic ways. Evernote allows me to capture and organize anything I can digitize. Pictures of student work, video of students learning, audio of student conferences, scans of student work, clips of student blog posts. 

Response:

Administrators have appreciated my work because it is helping to document student learning. Students think it's "cool" that I have digital copies of so much of their learning. Parents have not been as excited as I'd hoped.

Learning Curve: 

Evernote itself, and importing documents is easy to learn. The actual setup of notebooks and tags that I use has taken a few years to get where it is. I would recommend playing with notebooks and tags to see what works best for you. Evernote is software I used before I was a teacher and I still use a ton outside of school. I use it to organize our garage and our kitchen, for example.

What’s Ahead?: 

I worked with 6th graders who are all under 13. Unfortunately, this means they can't have their own Evernote accounts. If they could -- or if we can find a way to have parents create the accounts for them or something else -- the next step would be to get them doing the collecting, analyzing, and organizing of their own artifacts. That would be the key for me. Right now, we're working on having students take over the evaluation aspect of the artifact collection. As of now, I'm the one deciding what gets digitized or not. I want the students to be the ones doing that.

 

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Best in Tech Today are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.