As the school year gets underway across the nation, many schools and districts are launching new technology initiatives and programs designed to improve teaching and learning.

Educators love to share their successes, learn from the success of other schools and districts, and they also love to share lessons they learned along their journey.

eSchool Media and Xirrus have teamed up on the Innovate to Educate Awards to give a national platform for educators to share what they’re most proud of in their schools or districts. Here, we’ve highlighted the successes of five awards program applicants. Want to apply for the awards? You can do that right here.

[Editor’s note: This is the second part in a series featuring Innovate to Educate applicants. Find the first part here.]

Bordentown Regional Schools
Amy Wright, Computer Teacher / STEM Coordinator
One of the district’s top technology initiatives:
For the last 10 years Wright has taught middle school computers. The course was designed to give students in grades 6, 7, and 8 an introduction to Microsoft Office products and file management. It didn’t take long to realize that the students were already doing a lot of this in the younger grades but they didn’t really understand how computers work. So, Wright sought funding to bring Lego NXT robots to our classroom. She redesigned the 6th grade course to introduce students to the basics of computers (identifying hardware, software and the important job of processing instructions). They were immediately hooked! Every child, from every nationality, socio-economic background and every ability was working together to build robots and programming them to solve problems. Along with building robots, they were building confidence and gaining problem solving skills that carried over into math and science classes.

Next page: Collaboration, international learning, and more


Stamford High School/Stamford Public Schools
Mary Raphael George, Library Media Specialist
One of the school’s top technology initiatives:
Collaborating with my colleagues using Google Classroom while accomplishing information literacy goals involving academic research makes me the most proud because it gave teachers and students a newfound energy for the existing technology we were using. Faculty disseminated information to students and assessed student work utilizing new feedback options. Working with my colleagues was a team effort. It took patience as well as a willingness to be open-minded to new possibilities.

Burr and Burton Academy
Neil Freebern, Director of Creative Arts
One of the district’s top technology initiatives:
Freebern established what he refers to as a Heterogeneous Blended Learning Environment for many of his classes, as well as within his department. Through the use of technology, teachers are able to offer multiple courses in the same room at the same time. As a result of this initiative, students have more flexibility to move at their own pace, curricular offerings have been increased and educators are able to differentiate instruction more effectively. Enrollment is no longer a concern. Courses that have only a few registered can still be experienced in blended classrooms.

Maconaquah School Corporation
Cassandra Knolinski, 5th Grade High Ability Teacher
One of the district’s top technology initiatives:
I am most proud of our contact with the International Space Station. After we talked to the Japanese astronaut, Kimiya Yui, while he was flying above us on the ISS, the experience inspired students to dream big. Some students received their HAM radio license. Other students wanted to join a HAM club to talk to people all over the world. Our school is now a STEM school because we have had so much inspiration from this experience. We are currently finishing up the construction of a new STEM lab at our elementary school, and we have a STEM teacher dedicated to teach in this lab.

Cleveland City Schools
Ben Williams, STEM/ Engineering Instructor
One of the district’s top technology initiatives:
This STEM program has, through community and global partnerships, sent two sets of 10 laptops, each complete with global wi-fi hotspots, to two global areas where students are collaborating with global students internationally on projects. Students and teachers are currently working with One Heart Africa and Servant’s Heart Jamaica on collaborative projects that are empowering students in areas of need to develop skills in aquaponics, sustainable energy, entrepreneurship, global communication and technology fundamentals. This initiative has improved teaching and learning in schools greatly, as students and teachers have become focused on the ‘who’ in every lesson. Students are seeing every project as an opportunity to learn and redesign solutions for real world problems. Students are also learning empathy in a field of technology where the human element usually takes a back seat to technical skills and training.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura