By the end of October, every student in Madison City Schools received a Google Chromebook to use as part of the 1:1 Initiative and as the culmination of the virtual/hybrid 2020-2021 school year. Secondary teachers also made a technological transition with a variety of new platforms: a new student information system (PowerSchool), a new learning management system (Schoology), and global learning opportunities at the fingertips of every student (Chromebooks). Despite all these changes, our teachers explored, experimented, and engaged students in ways they were not able to before!
Using Schoology as a main vehicle for technology resources, secondary students had the opportunity to experience the positive sides of online learning, such as interactive videos, collaborating with their peers, and getting instantaneous feedback on assignments, while having the face-to-face support and relational interactions of a teacher in the room. Many teachers took students on virtual field trips, created dynamic group projects, and extended learning beyond the classroom walls. Some teachers took smaller, but important steps by creating digital tests instead of paper ones, or having students type essays instead of writing them.
Balancing this new way of teaching is not an easy task, and many teachers leaned on each other for support. This looked different at each secondary school - some teachers trained their faculty during professional development opportunities, other teachers presented a “showcase” where they showed-off a tech tool they used that really engaged their students, and many teachers talked to their neighbor to see how they were using the Chromebooks during the lesson. This type of organic support is often what makes the biggest impact in education and it was amazing to see our teachers learn from each other.
Oftentimes, the first step on any journey is the hardest, and our teachers and students took one giant step in moving forward with technology integration. Many teachers pushed themselves and their students out of their comfort zones to try new things and use technology. I was so impressed with this first year, and I am so excited to see what year two holds for us!