By Sara Martin
The second Digital Learning Environment Event, held on March 26 in Seattle, was kicked off with an inspiring keynote address by Dr. Barbara Grohe. Dr. Grohe is Superintendent of Kent School District in Kent Washington. Her dynamic address included highlights of the amazing things her district is doing in the area of technology.
Grohe began her address on the subject of 1:1 computing: Private schools are implementing this much better than public schools where leaders are still debating 1:1 adoption. Dr. Grohe says most of the world has passed up that conversation and already realize we need to have 1:1 initiatives. It’s happening now in India and Africa with the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project.
Dr. Grohe’s vision and leadership have brought her district into national distinction as leaders of technology implementation and 1:1 computing. (In 1998 Dr. Grohe was honored as the National Superintendent of the Year) Kent educators believe that preparing students for future success means making technology an integral part of K-12 education. Funding for several projects (classroom presentation stations in every classroom, replacement of outdated student computers, teacher laptops, and one-to-one initiatives) was secured through the passage of a Technology Levy in 2006. Voters were promised; that with the passage of the levy, the projects funded would be focused on helping student achieve 21st Century skill sets such as digital-age literacy, inventive thinking, effective communication and high productivity.
Planning and implementing such an enormous task has been quite a tremendous undertaking. Dr. Grohe shared with the audience a few things that they have learned through the implementation process so far:
• Grohe says, “In times of crisis, you have to narrow the focus”
• If you don’t focus on the learning the best teachers won’t come along with you. Those teachers are concerned about how kids learn-they need to know how these new ways of teaching with the aid of technology will change teaching and learning to make it better.
• Focus on the curriculum. Curriculum becomes the beginning of the discussion as a result of having the technology available to them. Look at the way technology can change the very nature of curriculum to help you teach better, not just different
• It’s not about the “stuff”; it’s about how to make the teaching and learning more effective.
• Talk quietly, do everything step by step.
• Optimize the teachers you have on staff. Help them understand what strengths they bring to technology.
• Identify your “maniacs”. These are the incredible people with a mission. Get out of their way and they will help you get where you need to be.
• Identify the others who are determined that your plans will NEVER succeed. Having an enemy is a true asset because they, as Grohe put it, “will ask the question your friends won’t” They will be great assets when they are brought into the decision making process.
• Chart your course. Know where you want to end up. Staying the course is the hardest part. The job of the administrators and the boards is to keep moving forward-never go back.
• Understand your obstacles. The administrators’ job is to get those out of the way. Grohe refers to this as “rubble removal” – so the “maniacs” can complete the mission
• And finally, Dr. Grohe suggested that you then have an obligation to share with your colleagues your lessons learned and she directed us all to the Kent School District website for more information on their technology program and implementation.
The rest of the day included more classes for participants to cycle through four 50 minute “classes” which included Science, Math/ Language Arts and Professional development. The day culminated with a wrap up presented by representatives from Smart and a drawing for some amazing prize which included a Smartboard and an hp tablet laptop!
I’m looking forward to my next Digital Learning Environment adventure in Boston next week. If you are in that area, or if you live near Boston, Phoenix or Pittsburg, consider joining us at the DLE event in your city. Find out more here: http://www.guide2digitallearning.com/
By Sara Martin
The keynote speaker at the first Digital Learning Environments Event in Chicago on March 19 was Superintendent Steve Baule from District 201 in Westmont Illinois. Baule began his address by asking what we can do more effectively with technology. Answers included extending the school day with things like online encyclopedias and virtual courses, and using standardized testing like MAPS (Measures of Academic Progress) for higher reliability and faster results.
He mentioned these keys to successful technology use and planning:
• Focus on student learning and the districts strategic needs
• Create robust infrastructure
• Train everyone with adequate ongoing multi-level training and support
• Constantly Review/Revise/Supervise/Inspect
• Support your decision with data
In the area of data, Baule stressed that quantitative data is important for technology planning as well as new technology adoptions. He mentioned gathering data on the following:
• How often or long technology is used
• Changes in test scores or attendance rates
• Impact on family contacts
• Changes in graduation rate and grades
After the keynote address, participants left their “homeroom” and cycled through four 5o minute “classes” which included Science, Math/ Language Arts and Professional development. With 5 minutes passing time these participants stepped into our students’ shoes for the day. In my class, Language Arts, their behavior was good-I had no referrals for the day!
Lunch was a nice sit down meal at the hotel’s restaurant. I enjoyed dining with a high school teacher from northern Wisconsin. Although we teach in geographically different parts of the country, she in Wisconsin and I in California, we discovered our school districts had much in common and shared many of the same challenges including declining enrollment, shrinking state resources, rising transportation costs (we are both in rural environments) increased difficulty in meeting the rising requirements of NCLB. Although we were both feeling more challenged in our teaching careers than ever, we were both optimistic that in spite of these challenges our students will still learn and grow and that we and our colleagues will continue to give our all to help our students succeed.
I came away inspired, just like I am every time I have the opportunity to connect with professional, dedicated and talented educators around the country. I look forward to my next Digital Learning Environment adventure in Seattle next week. If you are in that area, or if you live near Boston, Phoenix or Pittsburg, consider joining us at the DLE event in your city. Find out more here: http://www.guide2digitallearning.com/
By Sara Martin
Hp and Intel are the major sponsors of the 2009 Digital Learning Environment Event Series. Adobe, Microsoft, Smart Technologies, Dyknow, KNS and PASCO are partners in the events. These are free, interactive one day events taking place in Chicago, Seattle, Boston, Scottsdale and Pittsburg over a 7 week period starting March 19. The purpose is to provide a hands-on experience for K-12 decision makers in the area of technology integration into the curriculum. Attendees will experience state of the art technology solutions in lab environments in the areas of Science, Math, Language Arts/Literacy and professional development. The major goal is to learn how technology-rich learning environments enrich students’ learning experiences and help them achieve.
As an Adobe Education Leader with over 10 years of experience integrating Language Arts and technology I have been asked to provide the training for these events in the area of Language Arts/Literacy. I’ve just arrived in Chicago and am excited about the first event which will take place Thursday. I will be demonstrating how technology can enhance the language arts curriculum using Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements along with other hardware and software solutions like Smart Technology’s Smartboards and Smartsync.
The Language Arts standards typically have 4 major components; reading, writing, listening and speaking. The tendency in most American classrooms is to focus on paper, pencil, and listening. This is understandable since reading and writing are heavily tested on our high stakes standardized tests. Teaching and learning with multimedia technologies can address the often overlooked standards of listening and speaking as well as deepening knowledge in the total core curriculum. Further,
Technology can be the hook, the spark that draws a student’s interest into the learning process. By its nature, technology embodies “active participation”. Students learn by doing, by exploring, by creating, and in the end, their creations are authentic outcomes that are valued and can be shared.
As I journey through these 5 events in 5 cities, I will share my experiences and observations. If you want to attend one of these events just register at: