Technology ought to be a catalyst to inspire students that learning is not something for their amusement but necessary to success in college and beyond.
That was a central message David Schuler, superintendent of High School District 214 in Arlington Heights, Ill., brought to a Thursday morning presentation at the AASA national conference in New Orleans.
Online instructional programs and teaching methods are being adopted by American high schools to better prepare today’s students for college, he said, while referencing social media, electronic devices and open classrooms as some routes being used by school districts to close student achievement gaps.
“Our job is to get kids to dream beyond 12th grade,” Schuler said, highlighting several new programs implemented in his own school system to transform education. “When we do know that attendance goes up and discipline goes down when they are intrigued.”
District 214 provides students with an iPad for daily class instruction. The one-on- one culture has contributed to more collaboration and authentic learning experiences between students and teachers in and out of the classroom. “I think the excitement comes from giving up control and watching the organic process of learning,” said co-presenter Linda Ashida, district coordinator for teaching and learning in High School District 214.
Their district rolled out Redefining Ready, an initiative intended to assess a student’s college readiness. This has shifted the focus from standardized test scores to evaluating a student’s skills and interests, explained Schuler, a past president of AASA. The program provides equal access to educational resources for all students and shows how to succeed in an ever-changing global economy.
In many aspects, teachers now are able to watch their students be independent by teaching themselves the course materials. “Now when we walk into classrooms, students are leaning in to learn,” Ashida said. Teachers are encouraged to let students work through problems themselves to develop problem-solving skills.
With the emergence of novel instructional technologies, more resources are available to help students succeed in their academics and become the leaders of their educational journey. “We don’t see students as consumers of learning, but as creators,” Ashida said.
For more information on District 214’s current initiatives or to find their resources, visit http://tinyurl/D214Ready.
(By Kendall Lawson, a junior at Xavier University in New Orleans)