Voice of experience: Successful 1:1 school district praises PowerUp

HISD’s implementation of the PowerUp one-to-one laptop initiative is getting rave reviews from a North Carolina school district which successfully implemented a similar program six years ago. A team of educators from the Mooresville Graded School District recently visited classrooms at three HISD campuses which distributed student laptops in October.

“One of the things we were very impressed with was the rather extensive use of laptops for instruction in the classrooms,” said Steve Mauney, executive director for secondary instruction at the Mooresville Graded School District. “That is something we didn’t expect to see at the schools only two months after deployment.”

The Mooresville group of teachers, principals, and technology specialists even went as far as to say, that based on classroom observation, they estimate that HISD is way ahead of where their district was during the first year of their one-to-one program.

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The Young Men’s College Preparatory Academy, the Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy, and the Energy Institute High School distributed laptops to students in October. The remaining eight HISD campuses in phase I of PowerUp will hand out laptops in January. Teachers at all schools received their laptops in August and have spent the last four months in a series of afterschool, early release day, and weekend training sessions to learn how to use the devices and digital tools for classroom instruction. A select group of “early adopter” teachers also spent several days this past summer training with Mooresville teachers.

“When we were here this summer, we had a chance to share strategies and plans with a lot of your teachers, and today we’re seeing that many of those strategies have been put into place,” said Mooresville High School Instructional Technology Facilitator Tracey Waid. “We’ve seen a lot of student-centered classrooms, a lot of real world skills, student collaboration, and communication. It’s impressive.”

In addition to classroom observations at three schools, the Mooresville team conducted a Saturday afternoon session of professional development and training for teachers and principals from all PowerUp schools. The group will be returning in the spring for two more sessions with HISD teachers.

“It’s very exciting to have people who have traveled the road before you so they can share advice and strategies,” said Energy Institute High School Principal Lori Lambropoulos. “Mooresville has been great to work with. We couldn’t do what we’re doing without them.”