Future Ready is an effort intended to bring about digital learning opportunities designed to prepare students for college, career and citizenship. It provides a framework, resources, training and support. Districts that sign the Future Ready pledge "commit to foster and lead a culture of digital learning in their districts" (Dept. of Education). Academy School District 20 is one of those districts.
What does this mean for the classroom teacher? Much of what happens in this effort is behind the scenes in support of our students and the learning experience. To support districts committed to this effort, Future Ready Schools has a created number of programs:
At the heart of Future Ready Schools is a Framework. The framework consists of 7 gears focused around Personalized Student Learning:
At Pine Creek High School we've already taken a number of steps down this road. We have improved our infrastructure; we have established common planning for much of our staff; we have a path to determine if digital resources ensure our student's data privacy; we are developing assessment literacy and digital leaders; our professional learning weaves together our site plan with department needs; and, we are working though our assessment process and honors project. We're already taking great steps forward to be Future Ready and we're just beginning!
Take a risk. That’s a difficult charge. Sometimes it sounds like we aren’t doing a good enough job. Sometimes we wonder why tried-and-true means aren’t good enough. It takes risk to move forward and continue learning. It takes risk to amend or even outright change a lesson, a target, an essential question, or a practice. If we expect our students to continually learn in order to improve, then we must also follow that parallel path and strive to continually improve our own practice (Wennergren 134). The 1:1 environment sets the stage for change in the classroom; the tried-and-true doesn’t always mesh with our current learning environment or the world our students face every day. “This age of exponential change leaves us no choice – we must change or our students will fall behind.” (Tormala). “We will need to consider how to best harness exponential change in order to create equitable outcomes for all learners.” (Swanson)
Taking a risk is hard. Change is difficult. The Law of Diffusion of Innovation says that in order to change, we must take risks, learn from successes and failures, grow with the mindset of continuous improvement, and innovate by finding new ways to solve the challenges we face (Tormala). It’s OK not to know what resources and tools are out there and how they work. We’re learning. The good news is that you have support: department or team learning leaders, instructional coaches, your Teacher-Librarian, your Digital Learning Coach. Additionally, the online world is full of learning communities ready to support and share ideas, too. Edutopia and Twitter chats are just two of the many online resources full of ideas, resources and support for educators.
Reach out. Ask Questions. Collaborate. Co-teach. Take one step at a time. You aren’t alone on this road.
Time. It seems we never have enough of it. Grading, meetings, more grading, more meetings. There’s always so much to do. How does collaboration fit in to this when there are so many urgencies? Why should we give up more time for collaboration?
Collaboration focuses around the collective responsibility to improve student learning by improving teaching (Wennergren 134). “Teachers must apply their learning to themselves as well as their students.” (Wennergren 134) It’s a parallel process characterized by mutual engagement in procedures, tools, concepts, language and different ways of acting.
So we collaborate, because it helps us help our students learn. This time is especially helpful regarding digital pedagogy: what it means, how it embeds into our daily instruction, how it impacts student learning. This time together gives us the opportunity to learn, investigate, create and share resources, lessons and ideas. We have the opportunity to learn together what digital pedagogy is and what it looks like for us, in our teams, in our content area. It is professional learning differentiated for you.
Digital technologies are fundamentally changing our world. Taking advantage of their strengths to help students learn is something best done collaboratively. Technology is not our enemy. With some patience, careful planning, and thoughtful consideration, we will create more skilled students who are ready for the future, while creating a more enriching classroom dynamic where technology is just another tool for building students' success (Doyle-Jones 6). Take the opportunity, take a risk with your team, try something different, and explore the possibilities that digital resources bring to education.
What is digital learning? As a 1:1 school, it’s a necessary question to ask. The day-to-day of digital learning may appear different in different content areas, with different teachers, and in different grade levels, but the foundation is still the same: instructional strategies using various technologies that strengthen the student’s learning experience.
This is not using tech, because we have it. This is not about an “iPad lesson.” No. This is about effective strategies and practices that allow for deeper learning, real-world experiences, collaboration, individualized instruction, real-time feedback, equitable access to learning anytime and anywhere, and access to authentic materials.
As a School of Innovative Learning and Technology, we have a mission which calls for innovative, technology-embedded programs and experiences, Alongside our mission, we have a Digital Vision driving us to deliver experiences where our learners investigate, collaborate, create, innovate and demonstrate. Our digital tools serve to support and advance those learning experiences. Foundational are the instructional strategies which foster them.
As we take our next steps on this 1:1 journey with our mission and vision as our guide, we will work in collaborative teams to build that pedagogical foundation, increase our efficacy and craftsmanship, and add to our toolbox.
It’s a busy time and many of us want to focus our attention on those students that are about to walk through our classroom doors. That can make it difficult to connect with the Professional Learning that happens right before that moment. That’s understandable.
Pine Creek’s Professional Learning Program provides our community with ongoing opportunities for learning, not solely isolated ones. It provides us a shared experience to expand our skills and work collaboratively. We learn how to leverage new tools and we work together towards building and department goals. It is rooted in a belief in the value of continuous learning, growth and improvement.
I encourage you to embrace your Professional Learning experience as an opportunity to work toward our building’s shared vision and not a moment away from planning. Base your session choices not only on need and expectation, but curiosity and instructional potential. We have a staff full of rich experiences that they are looking forward to sharing with you. Those experiences are designed according to feedback from you, so please continue to provide that feedback.
History, Resources, and Direction for 1:1 at Pine Creek
We know that many of our students have iPads. We know that all of our students will have iPads next year. We know we have an iPad Cohort. The question that many of us have is why? Why are we doing this?
If you’re asking that, you aren’t alone. That’s why we took time in January to talk about the history of this program and dip our feet into some next steps. But perhaps we need more details regarding those statements above.
Pine Creek was the dedicated “tech” high school from the beginning. Technology has always been a part of what we do. 1:1 is a next step. From personal laptops, to tablets, to smartphones, it’s where our students are and we are meeting them there. The particular device that’s been handed to us - the iPad.
We aren’t running iPad classes, we are teaching kids. The iPad is another tool in our box to further our goals. What’s great about this journey is that we have a device to hand out to our students - all of them next year.
Yes, all of our students will have an iPad next year. Some of them will have been using them in the classroom for as many as 3 years. That can sound a bit intimidating, but you have resources and you have help.
The iPad Cohort has been working on this for the past three years. They represent all the curricular areas and all the areas of the building. They have tried, tested, learned and improved their practice over the years. They are here as experts in your curricular area and close resources in your area of the building. They are here to help.
It is from the Cohort and their experience that we determined our why which lead to our vision:
“The vision for digital learning at Pine Creek High School is focused on students as learners and teachers as their partners in the learning process. Here we use digital tools to create products, innovate design, collaborate with others inside and out of the classroom, and demonstrate learning. Our learners will be globally connected creators, communicators, collaborators, contributors, and constructivists.”
Note how the vision says digital learning, not iPad learning. We are more than an iPad school. We have amazing programs in Computer Science, Computer Programming, Graphic Design and Tech lab, too.
Visit a teacher. Listen to their digital learning stories. There are great things happening in this building!
Different people are at different places along any given journey. Some start at different times, some move at different speeds, some venture differently. That's where our group is. Whether it's how many of our classes are 1:1; how many of students have devices; how paperless we might be; or, how transformed our instruction might be, we are at different places and have different needs.
Because of this, we turned our time to looking at just that: where we individually are and what are needs are. We created a Padlet and added some examples of what we are doing in our classes, spotlighting high points and celebrating our successes. There are some great examples here! We also filled out a " needs assessment." This was so that our time together can really be meeting everyone's needs. We included our individual goals for the program, long- and short-term so that we could have some targets to aim at.
If you haven't seen our Padlet (spotlighting practice), please visit it and add a classroom experience of your own that we can help you celebrate. Additionally, please visit your Google Drive folder and fill out your own Needs Assessment. Let's continue to work together and grow by sharing and celebrating even if you are unable to attend our gatherings.
Welcome to the 3rd year of the Mobile Learning Initiative at Pine Creek High School. This year we have iPads in the hand of roughly 75% of our students. Next year ALL of our students will have iPads. It’s a critical and exciting time for us as we pave the way to full implementation. Keep in mind that this isn’t a journey that you’re taking alone. We will walk together and discover what learning in a mobile environment looks like. As this year progresses into next we will be the leads and resources for our fellow department and staff members.
I am a Digital Learning Coach by title, but lifelong learner by practice. An Apple Teacher, Google Certified Educator and Microsoft Innovative Educator, my goal is to assist educators in investigating, exploring, and investigating resources to embed in their instruction. I also hope to be a part of their journey toward an innovative and transformative practice that empowers learners and strengthens their own craftsmanship. I spends my free time with my family, my dogs and a good cup of coffee.