KCSD 96 Named a 2015 - 2017 Apple Distinguished School Program
Learn more about this distinguished recognition and how KCSD96 integrates technology to transform instruction.
A bit of history. Before 2008, the District 96 Technology Department operated independently, focused on replacing computers in the school labs, making minor infrastructure upgrades, and staffing tech troubleshooters who traveled districtwide to address tech needs.
At that time, a technology director at each District school supervised students using the technology when their teacher reserved the computer lab for that purpose. Without their classroom teacher present, students completed lessons designed by the technology director, but not necessarily correlated to classroom curriculum.
What's changed? A closer look at what would best serve students led to significant and positive changes:
- The Technology Department became part of the Curriculum Department.
- Tech purchases reflect students’ needs for mastering a rigorous, dynamic curriculum.
- Deliberate, continuous long-term planning addresses strategic upgrading of infrastructure.
Today, our students no longer head to a computer lab for a technology lesson or to complete an assignment. Instead, as in the 21st-century workplace, the technology is integrated into the work (the curriculum) and in the classrooms where students and teachers are working together. In August 2014 District 96 middle school students were given 1:1 access 24/7. Starting in 2015 in District 96, every elementary student has access to an iPad while at school.
Consistent with the deliberate, strategic approach to upgrading the infrastructure, the District had specific requirements teachers had to meet to implement technology in their classrooms. If a teacher wanted an interactive whiteboard, he or she committed to three days of summer training and an additional 14 training sessions over the next two years. Within four years of this initiative, every elementary classroom in District 96 had an interactive whiteboard and teachers trained to use them effectively.
Practices for meeting technology needs district-wide also changed significantly:
- Technology aides in each school support and equip students to address day-to-day troubleshooting for devices and apps.
- A technology coach in each school focuses on integrating technology into the curriculum.
- A technology coach works with faculty to analyze student data to guide instruction.
Job-embedded professional development ensures that District 96 technology coaches have access to information on current best practices and strong understanding of the needs of the classroom teachers they support for teaching and extending learning targets. Indeed, this focus on student growth proved extremely helpful with the 1:1 implementation of iPads for middle school students.
How do technology coaches’ efforts complement those of a classroom teacher? With a shared focus on student growth, the teacher and coach work together to design lessons integrating technology to meet the needs of all learners. Technology coaches bring innovation and strong instructional expertise to their work with classroom teachers. Their co-teaching and modeling further supports robust learning for all students. In addition, technology coaches help create technology-based formative and summative assessments to measure student progress reliably on Common Core Standards and 21st-century learning skills.
In a digital world such as ours, how can a school district ensure it has the infrastructure in place to handle the demands of increased technology use? To address this essential need, the department grew and restructured dramatically from two technology members. Today a technology manager, a database specialist, two support specialists, and seven technology aides focus on meeting technology needs in District 96. They collaborate to ensure that the pipeline of student learning is functioning, reliable, and current so that classroom experiences are positive. They address technical requirements so the technology coaches can focus on professional development needs of the staff and provide an online learning environment for students to navigate digital tools and experiences safely.
Is this organization and application of resources working? Data and feedback show that the District’s Technology Department affects learning and teaching experiences positively. Information sought from teachers, students, and parents helps faculty make informed decisions that truly serve the best interests of all stakeholders. The work of continuously developing classroom learning environments specifically tailored to the way our students learn today is ongoing and exciting.