A message from Superintendent Jeff Stephens:
This fall marks a rather momentous time in our district's history. Four of our schools (Wahlquist, Orion, North Ogden Elementary and Lakeview Elementary) now have the technology to provide personalized instruction and learning for every student! Some school districts refer to this as a "one-to-one" computer initiative in schools. Each student in these four schools was issued a chromebook computer of their own. Just a few short years ago, a personalized instruction and learning model through technology in our district seemed out of reach. In fact, we were encouraging students to bring their own device in order to increase access to technology. However, due to investments from the legislature, as well as increased funding from School Trust Lands and community councils willing to dedicate some of that funding toward technology, achieving our goal of utilizing technology to personalize instruction and learning in our schools has become attainable.
The excitement is not that every student has their own computer. Rather, it is the enriched teaching and learning that occurs with this infusion of technology. For example, at Orion Junior High, language arts teacher Ashley Marks described a virtual field trip that her students experienced touring a plantation home and the Creole lifestyle around New Orleans prior to reading Lois Duncan's Locked in Time. "It has completely transformed my classroom from a two-dimensional to a three-dimensional learning space," Ashley explained. LeAnn Jensen's 8th grade U.S. History class was in the hall where she had set up QR codes for her students to scan. Each QR code would link to a website, document or brief video on a Revolutionary War topic. Students worked in teams and were highly engaged as they learned of the Battle at Breed's Hill, the siege of Boston, and significant events at Lexington and Concord. LeAnn said, "I love that my classes are so interactive now."
At North Ogden Elementary, 5th grade teacher Jake Burnett explained his initial concern was the potential for decreased interaction with students due to increased computer time. He has witnessed just the opposite. Using Nearpod, Jake and his students explored Delicate Arch, observing first-hand the erosion of these monuments. In my visit to Jake's class, students were working in teams using the online review tool Quizlit. Students were highly engaged in what otherwise could have been a routine activity. Amy Filiaga's 4th grade class was augmenting language arts with ReadWorks. Amy had seen some bullying behavior and was counteracting with an on-line auxiliary text called, "Cool to Be Kind."
Wahlquist Ed Tech Coach Matt Winters described outstanding applications of technology by teachers including a virtual archeology dig in Jackie Acosta's history class, as well as the design of slope ramps in Brent Bourgeous' math class using Spheros. I loved hearing Melissa Judkins tell me about how students in her FACS class used Google Sites to create podcasts, video commercials or websites applying their knowledge of child development theory and essential elements of school readiness.
Mrs. Oliva's 4th grade class at Lakeview Elementary enthusiastically shared how they are using Zearn Math to build procedural fluency and accuracy. Then, I met a young boy who had just moved into our country several weeks earlier as a non-English speaker. He was rapidly acquiring vocabulary and language skills using Imagine Learning on his chrome book. When I asked how he was enjoying school, a bright smile lit up his face!
This model of utilizing technology to provide personalized instruction and learning is happening right now in Weber School District. Four additional schools will come on board in January, with even more schools in the near future. The potential for technology to revolutionize teaching and learning is only limited by the boundaries we establish. I applaud innovative, courageous teachers who are willing to think creatively as they discover ways to enhance learning for students. It truly is an historic time!