Teachers Going Digital During Saturday Sessions

High school teachers from throughout the district are spending their Saturdays and early-release training days learning how to integrate web tools and digital content into their daily classroom instruction. The training is part of PowerUp, a districtwide program that is giving students their own laptops to use at school and at home. HISD’s Professional Development and Instructional Technology Departments are co-hosting the training sessions, which are designed to give teachers hands-on instruction and guidance on how to use technology to make their lessons more engaging and student centered.

“PowerUp is about more than just giving our students laptops, it’s about changing the way our teachers deliver instruction,” said Assistant Superintendent of Professional Development Lance Menster. “In order to do that, we need to make sure our teachers have the knowledge, the training, and the tools to successfully use laptops for learning both inside and outside the classroom.”

During a recent Saturday session, teachers learned how to produce digital content using simple video tools such as Animoto and Screencast-O-Matic. Participants also explored using other web-based programs to enhance their lesson plans including Time Toast, Voice Thread, and Voki.

After each training, PowerUp teachers are asked to create mock lesson plans using the new tools. Additionally, teachers will receive follow up support from teacher development and instructional technology specialists before students at the 11 Power Up pilot schools receive their laptops this coming January.

Some teachers, such as Sarah Campbell from the Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy, are already incorporating the tools into current classroom instruction.

“The strategies and resources at the Power Up training could not have come at a better time,” said Campbell. “That very day, I put to use what I learned and started using some of the on-line learning platforms with my English students.”

You can read about Ms. Campbell and her students in this week’s E-news Breakthrough.