High Tech, High Touch, High Performance. You may have heard these words if you attended one the orientation meetings or our opening day staff meetings. The Centerburg Middle/High School staff has embraced these terms and they are adjusting to the new direction very well. But what does all this mean?
High Tech – This past summer Centerburg invested in new computer equipment to meet the growing demands of the PARRC - the next generation of online assessments. Our computer labs were updated with new Mac minis as well as continued improvements were made to the network infrastructure. Switches and hardware were replaced to create a more robust wireless network. Students are now permitted to bring their own device and connect to the wireless network. Each teacher will communicate with the students when it is appropriate to use their devices and when they should be put away.
Many would ask the question, “Why computer labs?” With the growing use of personal devices, why not invest in personal devices for students or ultimately a 1:1 initiative. We believe that personal devices are just that, personal. We must meet the demands of the online testing requirements as well as provide technology to support pedagogy and ultimately student learning. We felt the Mac minis would meet our needs well.
But there’s more…
Creating a wireless network capable of handling the amount of devices carried by our students was very important to our decision. Students will be able to use their devices, when appropriate, to support their learning. This is a huge step to changing the traditional learning environment into a modern collaborative environment. The addition of Google Apps for Education has increased the amount of opportunities our students have to collaborate on papers, projects or even just basic notes from class. These tools combined with available networks and devices will transform our instruction and benefit student learning.
High Touch – To become a high touch school we need to embrace and always work towards personalizing learning. We are attempting to do this in a number of ways. First in the Middle School we have created an intervention period for every student. This caused a bit of confusion at first due to the negative connotation of the word intervention. Our plan for intervention is this; we need to support our struggling students as well as support or advanced students as well. We will accomplish this through flexible grouping. Teachers will plan activities and divide students based on their needs at the time. The groups are fluid and may change as the activities change. Students will have opportunities to work on topics they are passionate about or have interest in exploring. Second, the high school will be exploring the K-12 online curriculum to create blended learning opportunities. The online curriculum will allow students to work at their own pace as well as have face to face classes everyday with their teachers. This is an exciting opportunity funded entirely by our Educational Service Center.
High touch also means that we want to communicate more and communicate better. We are working to increase communication from myself to our staff, from our staff to our students and from our school to parents and community members. There are many tech tools that will help with this but it’s really about taking the initiative to communicate. We need to be communicating and sharing information daily – not just when there is a problem. We have created a district Facebook page and Twitter feed. Please follow and like us. On our webpage middle school parents now have access to homework assignments all in one spot. You can access the link by visiting the middle school page and looking for the homework link under Quick Links.
Families – We want to partner with you. Working together we can create great learning opportunities for your children.
High Performance – Everything is changing. Ohio now has a new state report card to evaluate district performance and students will be taking the new next generation of assessments. The new assessments are not about memorizing facts and regurgitating information. Students will need to apply what they learn, solve complex problems and use higher level thinking skills. We expect to continue Centerburg’s tradition of high test scores. To do this we need to be ready and adjust our instructional practices to meet the demands of the Common Core. Our teachers are working very hard to stay on top of all the changes.
High Tech, High Touch, High Performance is more than a direction, or idea. It’s what we need to become to be successful as a district in the future. It is an expectation of our students and of ourselves. This is going to be an exciting journey and it’s an amazing time to be an educator.
We are preparing students for tomorrow, today.