Arizona’s Fort Huachuca School District has teachers create personalized staff development plans around technology each year, and a tech integration specialist program at each school is evaluated frequently for success. Thanks to the use of students response systems and a one-to-one iPad 2 initiative, among other programs, students are more engaged in classroom activities and view learning with new perspectives.
For these reasons and more, we’ve chosen Fort Huachuca School District as our “eSchool of the Month” for June. Here, Superintendent Ronda L. Frueauff discusses the district’s ed-tech accomplishments and the keys to its success.
(Editor’s note: To nominate your school or district for our “eSchool of the Month” feature, and to read about past winners, go to http://www.eschoolnews.com/eschool-of-the-month.)
How do you use technology to advance student learning?
We’ve focused on using technology and embedding it into our instructional programs for 10 years. The first steps we took included creating the infrastructure to increase access to technology resources for students and staff. That is an ongoing process in the district, which presently includes fiber and T-I connections in all 3 buildings. We’re also building a new high-tech middle school (with a STEM focus), where we’ll use cloud computing to support a one-to-one computing initiative using iPad 2 tablets for all students and staff members.
The other area receiving immediate attention is staff professional development. Each staff member creates a nine-hour technology professional development plan each year. Students use various software programs to assist with learning: Study Island, Skills Tutor, SOAR, STAR Reading and Math, STAR Enterprise, Discovery Science, JASON Project, and more. Teachers use the software for introducing content knowledge, reinforcement and practice, and for remediation/enrichment activities.
Have you noticed an increase in student performance and/or motivation as a result of this technology use? If so, how?
The one-to-one computing initiative is being piloted in the old school in preparation for the new school to open in August, and the students are very engaged. The apps we have purchased let the students access information more readily and help them ratchet up the quality of research they are doing for projects and activities. The incorporation of SMART Board technologies into the K-5 program has resulted in increased student achievement and student engagement. The middle school programs use Promethean ActivBoards, and the depth of curricular enhancement and enrichment offered at that level is phenomenal. Student responders are used at all levels in grades 3-8 to encourage active participation by the students as they are learning.
How do you use technology to streamline school administration and aid in decision-making? To what effect?
The teachers all use the teacher pages and the parent portal of PowerSchool to communicate class expectations and grading practices, as well as lesson components. This parent communication component has increased parent connections with the school and teachers. PowerSchool also has increased the overall efficiency of the school district staff with regard to student data management. Clerical staff, as well as attendance clerks, use this software to manage attendance data, report cards, and scheduling.
In the new middle school, highly sustainable and energy-efficient components are being placed in the school to help custodial and maintenance staff. Additionally, an energy dashboard will monitor energy use, and the students can use the data for projects and inquiry-based learning activities. Comparative analysis will be possible for each instructional pod in the building, so we can focus on energy conservation at the school level.