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Articles: Technology

When the projectors throughout the Phoenix Union High School District were found to be outdated and inefficient in 2013, administrators knew they were due for an upgrade. “During a larger initiative to increase student engagement across the district, I noticed that the projectors we had were so old and were so dim that it was impacting classroom management and student engagement,” says Don Fournier, the district’s division manager of information services.

In middle school, students are being readied for higher level math concepts. Educators must engage learners to achieve deeper understanding, as well as prepare students for high stakes assessments. This web seminar, originally presented on April 16, 2014, featured an education expert and sixth grade teacher who discussed using technology in practical ways to achieve ideal middle school math instruction.

Nigel Nisbet 
Director of Content Creation
MIND Research Institute

Three years ago, more than 60 percent of incoming middle school students in the Roseville Community Schools (Mich.) lagged in fluency, meaning they were not reading as quickly and as accurately as their national peers. District students were leaving kindergarten without reading independently. This year, middle school students are getting back on track, and kindergarteners were reading independently by December, due in large part to Direct Instruction solutions from McGraw-Hill, says Mark Blaszkowski, curriculum director for the district.

St. John’s Prep is a rigorous, Catholic independent day school for boys in grades 9 through 12. When the school adds a middle school with grades 6, 7, and 8 in September 2015, its 175-acre campus in Danvers, Mass. will serve 1,450 students. Focused on creating an atmosphere that fosters intellectual growth, St. John’s Prep is dedicated to preparing all students to take full advantage of today’s technology resources.

Instructional technology can enhance the classroom experience by delivering personalized learning to students on a greater level. Forsyth County Schools in Georgia successfully implemented digital learning content and tools that drive higher order thinking and increase student engagement.

Blended learning is constantly growing and evolving, and transforming education to be more of a student-centered environment. This web seminar, originally broadcast on May 13, 2014, featured blended learning expert Michael Horn, who outlined disruptive innovations and the subsequent impact on education. Also, an administrator discussed how her district made the transition to a blended environment, keys for a successful implementation and results so far.

Google Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education provide districts with cloud-based tools that are easy to implement and manage, that are affordable and reliable, and that enable student collaboration, communication and content creation from anywhere, on any device, at any time. In the fall of 2014, Google will introduce Classroom, a new free tool in Google Apps for Education. Classroom weaves together Google Docs, Drive and Gmail to help teachers create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and communicate with their classes with ease.

One of the key struggles in implementing most 1-to-1 programs is figuring out how to manage device deployments with limited staffing. However, a comprehensive enterprise-grade support system like Sprint’s Wireless Campus Manager can help districts with device management support efforts such as asset staging, asset tagging and tracking, and remote control of the device.

Students will need creativity, critical thinking, communication and problem-solving skills to succeed in college and future careers. To facilitate those skills, teachers need effective professional development to best use and integrate technology in the classroom. This web seminar, originally broadcast on June 5, 2014, featured an administrator from Richland School District Two, who shared expertise on how she helped launch a 27,000-student 1-to-1 program with Google Chromebooks and Apps for Education with the goal of improving student learning.

Many districts’ school years start with device rollouts and preparations for online assessments. Considerations need to be made around the technology planning for testing and 1-to-1 or BYOD. This web seminar, originally broadcast on June 6, 2014, featured an industry expert who discussed a new resource from SETDA (State Education Technology Directors Association) that can help district leaders identify technology requirements. Also featured was an administrator who discussed what groundwork needed to be laid prior to his district’s 1-to-1 and BYOD pilots.

Lindsey Mayer’s job is, quite literally, fun and games. A math interventionist in the Ladue School District in Missouri, Mayer uses playing cards, board games and manipulatives to reinforce tricky math concepts for struggling elementary school students. Guided by Number Worlds, a research-proven math intervention from McGraw-Hill Education for grades preK-8, Mayer presents lesson plans aligned with the Common Core and bolstered by hands-on activities that engage her students.

With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards, it became apparent that all students in Placentia-Yorba Linda USD in Orange County needed better keyboarding, higher order thinking and information fluency skills in order to perform well on the Smarter Balanced assessment.

Students today are innately comfortable with digital tools, and one way to enable personalized literacy instruction is through these tools. Close-reading techniques, student-submitted writing responses to book-specific prompts and other practices are made possible through a new digital platform. This web seminar, originally broadcast on May 28, 2014, featured an innovative superintendent who implemented this platform in her district to foster a more personalized learning environment, as well as the president of myON, who described the solution in more detail.

Teaching math in middle school is challenging! Teachers deal with adolescent volatility, a wide variance in student ability, and a surprisingly sophisticated set of mathematical ideas. Adding to these challenges, the new Common Core assessments probe students’ understanding of mathematical concepts at a depth not previously widespread on State tests.

The 37,000 students in Escambia County Schools in northwest Florida—like all students today—are constantly bombarded with multiple types of digital media in their lives. Getting them to focus on the important messages in the classroom when they are used to so many distractions can be a challenge. “My experience has been that many children cannot filter the different types of noises and focus their attention on a singular voice,” says Marcia Nowlin, the district’s Title I director.

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