Evergreen Public Schools is trying to answer a bold question: Can technology help ensure learning experiences are consistent across all of its schools, and at the same time promote personalized learning?
The district’s work in technology didn’t start with this question. Three years ago, officials decided to make an investment in one-to-one technology for the 27,000 students it serves. Once down this path, they quickly realized that the conversation had been primarily about the technology itself, and not how the technology would support personalization in teaching and learning.
By questioning how the technology could support teachers and students, the conversation and work in teaching and learning shifted away from technology and toward curricular resources that can be easily used to support the learning design focus in the district.
To date, the general model for curriculum has been the physical textbook. If a school district adopts a textbook, that became the base for curriculum. In recent years, many teachers are augmenting district-approved textbooks with texts and open educational resources, digital materials and links to PDFs—meaning third grade students in different classrooms at the same school may be experiencing the same content in a completely different way.
Evergreen’s leaders have decided to change how they think about curriculum to ensure equity across all schools.
Rather than thinking of curriculum as a physical thing, Evergreen is flipping the script by using curricular resources as a tool that works with their technological investments to better meet the needs of their teachers and students, and ensures coherent, quality instruction across their district. Such a tool needs to:
- Be easily communicated and distributed to schools, teachers, and students
- Be quickly accessed across devices
- Provide an adaptive and flexible resource that can change with needs of students
- Support students and teachers in a variety of classroom settings
- Help measure learning to empower teachers and school leaders to track success and adjust accordingly
A textbook can be a part of the tools available to get these jobs done. In many districts, a textbook becomes the base of a plan chosen and put forward by district leaders. A textbook can be used to guide plans teachers create and use in their classrooms. Often textbooks have assessments as well to help measure learning. But there are also limitations to a textbook model. Specifically:
- What if the textbook doesn’t capture the particular needs of the district?
- What if teachers don’t get their textbooks?
- What if teachers don’t use the textbook to plan and deliver instruction?
- What if the textbook doesn’t speak to the needs of every student in the classroom?