As superintendent of Michigan’s second largest school district, Johns has transformed teaching and learning through the effective use of technology. A member of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools, Johns has spearheaded the district’s focus on ed tech to create personalized learning for students.
Utica kindergartners use iPads, laptops, and interactive whiteboards to develop digital literacy skills at an early age. High-quality digital content is infused with adaptive assessments that personalize learning for each child and provide immediate feedback to both students and teachers. The district has a partnership with Discovery Education that provides the company’s digital science Techbook and customized professional development to all 25 elementary schools. Enrollment and success in college-level Advanced Placement courses has doubled, and a blended learning model for struggling high school students has led to a dramatic increase in the percentage of students earning diplomas.
Another example of Johns’ leadership is the Center for Science and Industry, which gives students the ability to work directly with business leaders to gain a competitive edge for high-paying jobs in the fields of robotics, engineering, and multimedia production. Every graduate from this program over the past two years has gone on to pursue a postsecondary experience at the university, community college, or trade school level.
To give students the knowledge and technology skills they will need to succeed in college and the workforce, Kim has invested in new teachers, a formal K-8 technology curriculum, and new technology throughout the district. She has implemented advanced elective classes featuring a Fab Lab, 3D modeling and animation, iPad app creation, and more.
Chi also integrated PYTHON programming throughout the middle school math curriculum. Students are creating their own computer programs using algorithms essential to the concepts they learn in math class, reinforcing cross-subject connections. Kindergarten through fifth graders attend a formal thematic computer lab program once a week, bringing them from fundamental computer use all the way up to podcasting and video editing.
From students using technology to create and collaborate through their Google Apps for Education accounts, to teachers assessing, facilitating, and collaborating through various online tools, the district’s use of technology is enhanced by two integration specialists who meet directly with the teachers biweekly to help them customize their lessons.
When Patton became superintendent of Collier County Public Schools (CCPS) in 2011, one of her first priorities was initiating a technology adoption that has put the district at the forefront of the digital revolution. CCPS, which has 44,500 students, now has 29,000 computers, an advanced district-wide fiber optic network, and other ed-tech tools. Each classroom has a Mimio interactive whiteboard, a document camera, a ceiling-mounted projector, and a sound amplification system.
Last May, CCPS launched a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program. Patton convinced local corporations to donate iPads to students who don’t have a personal device of their own. CCPS has used Discovery Education’s interactive digital Techbook as its official science textbook for students in grades K-8, and Patton was invited to Washington, D.C., last year to meet with the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission to discuss the district’s use of digital textbooks.
Patton recognizes the importance of providing robust professional development to ensure that teachers are comfortable using technology. The district’s “Teach Me in My World” project provides intensive professional learning and co-teaching opportunities to educators on the instructional use of iPads in the classroom, supplemented by online videos, tutorials, webinars, summer institutes, and attendance at conferences such as Florida Education Technology Conference (FETC).