Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Where did the year go?

It's hard to believe that I last posted on this blog back in October. A lot has happened since then. Here are some brief highlights of my journey:

To begin, I did follow a student at one of our high schools for an entire day in November. See previous post. It reminded me a great deal of my high school experience back in the 70s. From Algebra, to Study Hall, Economics, Science, English and History, the experience was much the same. We all sat in our desks (in rows), teacher presented a lesson or activity, we were allowed to work in pairs/groups at some point during the class (possibly even physically move when the class was big enough to allow for it), The biggest change from the 70s was the use of an ActivBoard or a projector
by a few of his teachers. But, it was used mainly as an overhead or movie projector would have been back in the day. The technology that was used by the students during the course of the day:
  • a graphing calculator in Algebra, and
  • their phones in Economics to look up their stock prices which were then relayed to the teachers to put into a spreadsheet, and
  • Kahoot was displayed on the ActivBoard in History to review for a quiz given during the period. (I took the quiz and made an A having never been in the class before that day. I didn't major in history, trust me!)
Conclusion: For the most part, we all have a similar experience. AND, what we know is, what we know. As Grant Lichtman points out in #EDJourney
"In order to change our schools, we have to "paint the picture" of what a learning ecosystem looks like. This means exposing our educators in person and virtually to the many, many brushfires of classroom and organizational innovation that are burning in this country... Then we need to provide the resources - most critically, time - for them to retool their professional skill set and gain comfort with the learning ecosystem as opposed to the learning assembly line."

In the fall, we also began exploring the potential for a 1:1 in our district. It is time to refresh the classroom devices, and it was determined the had the money to purchase a Chromebook for every 3rd - 12th grader. We spent he fall and winter researching district implementations far and wide and made several determinations:
  • consider purchasing a Learning Management System beforehand or at the time as others who didn't were doing so now,
  • expectation (and it appears true) that there is more ownership/responsibility for the device when each student is responsible for own,
  • a keyboard is crucial for production,
  • need for campus technical support,
  • need for extensive teaching & learning support (see Grant Lichtman quote above),
  • deploy by grade levels, to have the opportunity to really change the day, not just a 45-55 minute segment of it,
  • campus leadership is the driving force of a successful transformation.
The more we learned, the greater the focus because on our goals for teaching & learning and less about the device. We know that we want to change what happens in our classrooms - see above. We need to make schools more relevant and more reflective of what is happening outside of them. We see it is an "all-in" proposition in order to succeed.

Knowing where we are as a district, we decided to create an application process for those campuses who are interested in making such a shift. We have plans to select between 3-5 campuses (supporting any more than that isn't currently feasible), and 10 campuses applied. However, with a shift in leadership at the district (our new superintendent was named last week), the project is currently "under further discussion,"

As of this post, we are going to RFP for a learning management system.

Stay tuned!

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