Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Year Ahead -- A Preview!

It’s an exciting start to the 2016-2017 school year! We are off and running with innovative and modern instructional strategies within classrooms as we work towards developing Digital Learners!

Today’s Digital Learners need to be:
  • Empowered learners
  • Digital citizens
  • Knowledge constructors
  • Innovative designers
  • Computational thinkers
  • Creative communicators
  • Global collaborators

Does this sound familiar?  Well, these are the new, 2016 ISTE Standards for Students, released this summer. In Holliston, we have been using the previous standards to guide our work. We are excited about the new focus areas including global education, computational thinking, and design. We are working toward incorporating the 2016 standards in our curriculum, which is connected to one of our 2016-2017 district goals.

This year, Placentino and Miller students are experiencing further technology integration of the Nexus 7 and Google Chromebooks within their classrooms. Teachers are actively incorporating these devices into whole class and small group instruction.

On the tablets, apps such as The Foos, Kids Math Place Value, and Prodigy allow students to experience learning in a personalized way. The environment is very game-like, but one that is designed to help students learn!  The tactile experience for our youngest children is perfect developmentally! Older students are using the Chromebooks and are exploring Google Apps for Education and using the platform for communicating and collaborating, including through research projects. Through classroom use and computer class, students are also developing important skills for digital citizenship; students also experience typing instruction.

At the middle school, students are continuing to experience learning in the 1:1 Chromebook environment. Learning in a digital environment is becoming integral to how they learn -- from where they gather information (online resources and digital texts) to how they convey their learning (through creative projects). Some examples include:

  • Google Classroom for collaboration, formative assessment, and organization of student work
  • Kahoot -- a game show-like platform to gauge student understanding
  • WeVideo -- creation of student videos

1:1 Chromebooks has launched for grades 9 and 10 at Holliston High School.  Early feedback has been very positive. With students on the same platform, teachers can reliably use technology to enhance their lessons and students can use it to demonstrate their understanding. Also this year at the high school, the PIT crew (Panthers Instructional Technology) is in full swing. This student group provides technical support to students and teachers through a technology Help Desk located in the library. Additionally, they provide support to the high school’s Makerspace…drumroll please...

Makerspaces are here! A Makerspace has been installed in the Holliston High School library. This expands upon opportunities students have to engage in “the making movement” at Miller and Adams. Students are exploring elements of design-thinking through the use of tools such as vinyl cutters and 3-D printers. These are exciting opportunities for students to tinker and stretch their creative side to design and create!

Stay tuned to our blog to learn of many more examples of digital learning in Holliston throughout the year.