PowerUp Parent Meetings Begin at Three Schools

Hundreds of HISD parents came out to the Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy on October 3 to learn more about digital citizenship and the district’s one-to-one laptop initiative. YWCPA is one of 11 HISD schools where students will be given laptops to use at home and at school as part of the PowerUp initiative.

“I really think is a great idea,” said YWCPA parent Charlotte Goins, who attended the meeting with her teenage daughter. “Students today need certain skills to succeed in the work force, and by using computers they can develop and sharpen these skills.”

Goins and other parents at the informational meeting received an overview of PowerUp and the Hewlett Packard laptop with accompanying software that their child will be assigned. More importantly, they were given a class on Internet safety, the proper use of technology, and good digital citizenship.

“We want our parents to model proper digital behavior with their children and to be aware of some basic rules that they can use at home to protect their child’s safety,” said Instructional Technology Manager Beatriz Arnillas.

All laptops distributed to students will have Internet filtering installed that will block social media and inappropriate websites based on content keywords. The filtering software is in place at all times, even when at home. Students will also undergo digital citizenship instruction and they, along with their parents, will sign an agreement stating they understand appropriate Internet behavior and the responsible use of technology.

Students at YWCPA, the Young Men’s College Preparatory Academy, and the Energy Institute High School will receive their laptops in the next few weeks, while the remaining PowerUp high schools will have theirs distributed in January 2014. Parent meetings for those schools will begin in November.

“By starting at just these three schools it allows us to distribute the devices on a smaller scale so we can ensure that we have everything in place to properly support our teachers, students, and parents when we deploy the remaining laptops in January,” said Arnillas.

Teachers at all 11 schools received their laptops in August and are currently undergoing training and professional development on how to use the computers to create engaging lessons plans for their students.

“This is more than just giving students laptops,” said HISD Chief Technology Officer Lenny Schad. “This is about changing the way teachers teach and students learn. PowerUp will create transformation – digital-age instruction that will prepare Houston’s children to succeed in the 21st century and compete with their peers from around the world.”