Curriculum Driving Technology
I’ve just returned from visiting a wonderful school and district. Dr. Barbara Marin, Assistant Superintendent of the Hempfield Area School District near Pittsburgh, PA, invited me to visit classrooms, where teachers and elementary students were using technology in the right way. That correct use wasn’t an accident. At the Stanwood School, and other schools in the district, curriculum drives the technology use, and also drove its initial purchase.
Administrators and teachers at all elementary levels, including special education, as well as parent and student stakeholders have bought into the use of technology. One of the reasons is that everyone absolutely adores Dr. Marin, and I’m certain the feeling is reciprocated, because Marin’s eyes light up when her staff shares what they do and how their teaching has changed for the better. I also think that this district, under Marin’s leadership made technology important for everyone, in all classes, by making it a part of each classroom and not by singling out one or two educators as test pilots. There are no pockets or islands of pioneers here. Every teacher has equipment, and guess what? Each teacher is a teaching technology pioneer as well as an across-the-district team member. The curriculum is first, of course, but the use of technology is ubiquitous in Marin’s district.
Each classroom has four student computers for reading and math center programs, a projector, and Mimio solutions—MimioTeach, MimioVotes, and MimioView to make classrooms interactive and engaging for students. All teachers use MimioPads to direct and lead teaching in a mobile way. It is the first time I’ve seen this many teachers so positively use this much technology seamlessly with so many elementary students. There are no behavior difficulties because all students are engaged—and I don’t use that word lightly—they are involved in their learning.
The Hempfield Area School District is the poster/billboard for how technology should be done, and what teachers and students can do with it. I've visited many, but to see a complete school technology package, which began from the curriculum rather than the device side--is brilliant and refreshing. And hey, look at the products they chose for that curriculum.
It was a pleasure to visit, and it must be a pleasure to teach there. I’m hoping there’s an invitation to return, because it certainly was an academic hug for this old chalk pusher.