From Henry Ford pioneering automotive mass production to Steve Jobs revolutionizing mobile technology, entrepreneurs are famous for disrupting the status quo. But they aren’t the only ones who understand that not settling for the standard approach can be the key to problem solving. Some educational organizations also transcend the status quo by integrating technology and education, hiring innovative people, encouraging creative thinking, and continually adapting. These three innovative school districts are proof that when educators shake up traditional models of distributing homework, deploying technology, and delivering curriculum, students succeed.
Using Curriculum to Guide Educational Technology Deployment
As the Director of Instructional Technology for Putnam City Schools in Oklahoma, Charri Stratton understands the variety of challenges administrators face when it comes to integrating technology in the classroom. To tackle these challenges, Putnam City Schools puts curriculum at the forefront of its technology deployment. Stratton elaborates, “We thought about why we wanted to put iPads in the hands of kids, how that would affect their learning, and letting that guide us in our deployment.”
When assessing if technology can provide a better model to the practice of assigning traditional homework, they start by asking four questions:
- What is the quality of the assignments?
- What is the quality of the adult help that our students have at home?
- What was the quantity of homework?
- And finally, do we want to send home mobile devices?
They discovered that the answers differ for each grade level. While there are advantages of sending home smart classroom devices such as improving the speed of feedback, it was decided not to send the devices home for elementary and middle school students. As they go to 1-to-1 in Putnam City high schools, they will be revisiting this topic because homework looks very different at that level. “It’s the role of curriculum to make sure the device is used in a way that benefits students the most in the long run,” explains Stratton. “This approach allows us to make the best choices for our students based not only on our district’s finances, but also based on the curriculum and our student needs, and our students’ home lives.”
Learn more about how you can easily charge, store and secure 8 or 16 iPad devices with Putnam™ Charging Stations.
First-of-its-kind Funding Initiative Helps Prepare Students for Life after High School
As a recipient of the presidential Top 100 Innovative Superintendents award, Dr. Darryl Adams is known for developing ideas to disrupt not only the status quo but also a failing system. This former Superintendent of Coachella Valley Unified School District in California knew something had to be done to address the district’s low graduation rate and to better prepare students for college and future careers.
The challenge was to find a creative way to fund an investment in the future of Coachella Valley students in one of the poorest school districts in the United States. The first step was to champion a first-of-its-kind $42 million technology bond, which received overwhelming voter approval.
Next, a teacher training program was launched, and an iPad was handed out for each of the 18,000 students. But the initiative didn’t stop there. Since the superintendent wanted a 24/7 learning opportunity, a creative solution was required because less than half of the students had internet connection at home. So he installed Wi-Fi on school buses so the kids could get online while going home or traveling to athletic events. Lastly, he arranged to park the buses in high-density areas in the evening — throughout the district’s 1,250 square miles — to keep connectivity live until late into the night.
Watch the video on how one of the poorest districts in the United States leveraged LocknCharge EVO 40 iPad Cart to deploy over 20,000 iPad devices.
A New Approach Prepares Students for a Changing Workforce
Working in collaboration with the community, local industry, and the Colorado Workforce Development Council, the Cherry Creek School District set out to expand the career and technical programs that were available to students at the district’s seven high schools. In a country where the majority of high schools are focused on getting students ready for a four-year degree, the new Cherry Creek Innovation Campus (CCIC) opened its doors in 2019 to not just prepare students for a degree but also a career.
According to the CCIC website, it is a stand-alone college and career preparedness facility accessible for high school students in the Cherry Creek School District. Courses at the CCIC align with the industry standards for seven in-demand and growing career Pathways: Advanced Manufacturing, Business Services, Health & Wellness, Hospitality & Tourism, Infrastructure Engineering, IT & STEAM, and Transportation.
With a curriculum rooted in real-world skills and trade certifications, instructors believe they have everything they need to prepare students for the 21st-century economy. “From the first day of planning, we worked alongside industry partners to develop curriculum and instruction for every pathway. Because of this intentional collaboration, students are immersed in experiences based on industry expectations and real-world applications,” CCSD’s Assistant Superintendent of Career and Innovation, Sarah Grobbel said in a recent spaces4learning article.
Read more about how the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus opens new directions for students whose post-high school plans include college, military, or entering the workforce right away.