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 third part in a series featuring Innovate to Educate applicants. Find the first part here and the second part here.]

West Iredell Middle School
Rachel Oakley-Gregg, MathCasts
One of the school’s top technology initiatives:
Mathcast is an innovative initiative that I have been working on for a couple of years. The concept is that students work collaboratively to digitally record one’s understanding of mathematical concepts via voice-recording, on-screen writing, video recording. Mathcast has allowed my students to show me digitally their understanding of concepts. They are able to share their methods for understanding with other students to help them better understand and grasp concepts. Since the projects are digital, the students are easily able to access them to review concepts as they move to future classes and need a quick review.

Next page: Four more school technology initiatives


Mountain Heights Academy
Sarah Weston, Director of Technology and OER
One of the school’s top technology initiatives:
ONLINE DIGITAL OPEN COURSEWARE – Mountain Heights Academy is an online, public charter school in Utah. Mountain Heights is the first secondary school to develop its own online curriculum as open source content and share it with the world. Mountain Heights remains one of the most innovative and cutting-edge digital academies today, providing equal access to high-quality digital resources all over Utah and beyond. We have released these digital resources under a Creative Commons Attribution licence. This means that any teacher or student can reuse, revise, remix and redistribute the materials. This gives teachers the freedom to do what teachers to best– tinker, adjust and adapt their teaching materials to meet the needs of their students. Course development began in 2009 with nine (9) courses being produced. Since then, an additional 73 courses have been created and publicly released, bringing the total to 82.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help School
Carl Jankowski, Principal
One of the school’s top technology initiatives:
As part of our Middle School Integrated Language Arts program, ‘Genius Hour’ was a project based learning activity that engaged students to research topics or concepts about which they were passionate. Students presented their ‘Genius Hour’ projects to their peers proving that true understanding of a concept stems from the students ability to teach that concept. Chromebooks were used in the research and development of the ‘Genius Hour’ projects.

The Richland School of Academic Arts
Dan Jones, Teacher
One of the school’s top technology initiatives:
I have created a distance learning program at my school that now stretches around the globe. I began this program because I knew that my students were not able to travel to many of the location that we studied in social studies, so I wanted to bring those locations to them. As we studied the Declaration of Independence, I contacted the National Archives in Washington, D.C. to see if they would be able to talk about the Declaration of Independence with my students. They were thrilled to have been asked, and we were the first school that they had ever Skyped with. The Skype session was AMAZING, and my students asked when we could do another Skype session. I began to think about people to contact for the other content that I knew we would be covering. My 8th graders would become the first class in the United States to Skype with The U.S. Capitol, The White House Historical Association, Mount Vernon, The Benjamin Franklin House (in London, England), Clemson University (Research Institute for the recovery and restoration of The Hunley), as well as Teresa Kemp (she is an expert on slave code quilts, and has been recognized by the White House for her efforts). My 7th graders have had the opportunity to Skype with The National Science and Technology Museum for Leonardo da Vinci in Italy.

Odyssey Day School
Stephanie A Wilkins, Head Elementary Teacher
One of the school’s top technology initiatives:
We held our first ever STEAM Night in January 2016. It was a labor of love that involved administrators, teachers, students, families, and community volunteers. The evening involved a variety of activities/presentations from that represented each of the areas of STEAM. The event brought our school community an increased awareness of and appreciation for integrated learning across the curriculum. It also highlighted the technology that is taught in the classrooms. From squishy circuits, and conductive playdough to brainteaser math problems, and Engineering challenges. The participants and their families collaborated, and created together! This will continue as an annual event and brought student interest to our school from the local community.

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. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura