As part of our five-year student learning plan, a district committee studied best practices for infusing 21st century learning in our classrooms. To increase student learning and engagement, the committee recommended the district implement a digital transformation.
Digital transformation is more than just putting digital devices in the hands of students and teachers; it is a shift in our instructional practice. The real task involves connecting students more closely with their course work, their teachers and each other. By fostering these connections, we will accomplish increased engagement in our classrooms and extend students’ learning beyond the traditional school day.
Fully implemented, this digital transformation will:
- elevate achievement for all students;
- close achievement gaps between special education, English language learners and economically disadvantaged students;
- increase graduation rates;
- improve student attendance; and
- reduce behavioral incidences.
What is involved in the digital transformation plan at each school level?
Over the next four years, all students and teachers in grades 6-12 will be issued an iPad. Students will utilize iPads in their classrooms and will take them home nightly to extend their learning beyond the school day.
- To organize learning for their students, teachers will upload important readings, weblinks, videos and assignments on Edmodo, a customized teacher website. Students will be able to track classroom assignments, easily access key documents, post responses and receive feedback on their work, electronically. Parents will be able to securely log into Edmodo to view assignments and check their child’s learning progress.
- IBooks Author, a free digital publishing tool, will allow our teachers to publish a digital, interactive textbook that students will download to their iPad. The key benefit to the teacher created book is the ability to customize the content and lessons to meet the common core standards and the needs of SASD students. Additionally, these books allow students to write their own notes and questions on the page, access a dictionary by selecting any word, review teacher selected vocabulary and participate in teacher developed quizzes to assess their learning.
In the 2012-2013 school year, six elementary schools will implement a unique technology plan to meet the needs of the students they serve. The remaining elementary schools will begin this process in the fall of 2013.
- To engage students, personalize student learning and accelerate achievement, buildings will acquire digital tools - such as document cameras, iPads, iPods and Smartboards for use in classrooms.
- Staff at these buildings will finalize their building staff development that infuse 21st century skills into their curriculum and our SASD student-learning plan.
- Technology will be used for instruction, to personalize learning, to differentiate instruction and learning, and as an intervention for students to grow.
At the High School level in 2012-13 school year, four academic teachers at North and four at South will have students use classroom sets of iPads to research, analyze, create and publish information to solve problems. These classrooms will aid in the preparation for the 1:1 iPad deployment for sophomores in the following year.
How will instructional practices change as a result of this digital transformation?
- The transformation will move the teaching focus from content delivery to student learning – placing the needs and interests of children front and center.
- Teachers will create personalized learning systems that prepare all students – regardless of his or her circumstances - for life, meaningful work and citizenship.
- The mobile devices provide anytime, anywhere learning. No longer will learning be limited to class periods or within school walls. This will permit students to make connections between what they are learning in the classroom and what they see happening in the real world.
- The digital transformation leverages the incredible power of social-networking to be used for academic benefit. Teachers will build upon students’ passion for social networking by planning lessons that require students to work collaboratively with their peers and communicate learning with a variety of audiences. This type of learning is referred to as “academic networking”
- With greater access to information, teachers must ensure all students are instructed in strategies to filter, analyze and evaluate online resources for credibility and authenticity.
What is being done right now to prepare for this digital transformation?
To prepare students for success and to be career and college-ready, it is essential we move forward with this digital transformation.
- An integral part of this plan is providing infrastructure that allows students and staff access to our Internet system. Our technology department has begun the process by providing robust wireless access at our school buildings, moving toward the target of all SASD buildings being wireless by 2015.
- As a true partner in this initiative, the entire tech department has been planned and trained to support mobile devices for the past two years.
- Extensive professional development is planned to ensure staff members have the training and support needed for the successful implementation of our 1 to 1 initiative.
- Teachers will be involved in summer institutes and on-going workshops learning to utilize digital technology and the required instructional practices needed to improve student engagement and achievement.
- During the school year, on-site support will occur in integrating technology into lessons plans, teaching methodologies, student assessment strategies and the development of personalized learning.
- To ensure success in this transformation, additional staff has been placed in the areas of library media and mobile technology management.
How is this digital transformation being funded?
The initial and on-going costs for the necessary student and staff devices, professional development and wireless access will be funded through the reallocation and budgeting of district funds. The estimated cost for this four-year implementation plan is $4.7 million dollars. Based upon this district wide plan, the district will be spending about $117.50 per student annually for this initiative.
For the 2012-13 school year, the implementation cost is 0.63% of the district’s total annual budget, $813,428. Monies from federal funds such as edu-jobs dollars and Microsoft cy-press funds are being used to cover a portion of the staff development and infrastructure costs. In addition, changes in budget allocations, reallocations of monies no longer needed in some areas are being tapped upon to support the transformation. (For example, the reduction in the textbook budget due to the availability of free or low-cost digital textbooks, reductions in printing costs and reduction in the number of computers needed at each building to support learning).
Combining the power of high quality instruction and mobile learning devices has the potential for greatly improving student learning both, in and out of the classroom. The use of technology leads students to approach subjects differently, empowering them to be more vested and accountable for their own learning, while giving teachers the tools and opportunities to provide more robust, individualized instruction for all. Parents, too, are able to be more involved with their students’ learning as Edmodo will allow parents to review material and help students figure out homework when both the parent and student are unsure as to how to proceed.
As part of our continuing mission to increase student achievement in the Sheboygan Area School District, we are eager to begin.
It is our goal to keep you informed as we move forward together in providing each student with world-class education.
posted June 6, 2012