Veteran social studies teacher George Caldwell admits that when he first heard about PowerUp, HISD’s districtwide digital transformation effort, he was a little nervous and scared.
“I wasn’t very comfortable using technology in my classroom, but I decided to grab a laptop cart and let my kids know that we were going to figure this out together. They use technology every day in their lives, and we as teachers need to meet them where they are.”
A year later, all of Caldwell’s students at Austin High School have their own laptops, and he is much more comfortable using technology in his daily instruction. He’s also embraced the PowerUp:HUB, HISD’s online teaching and learning platform, as a way to facilitate student discussion and collaboration in his classroom.
During a recent lesson on the Civil War, students in his U.S. History class were assigned to be a resident of either the North or the South, and then used the HUB’s discussion board feature to take part in a real-time conference arguing the merits of slavery and other issues.
“Content and knowing my content are important as a teacher, but what is equally important is engaging my students and facilitating activities that allow for deeper learning and understanding on their part,” said Caldwell. “Technology and these new digital tools are allowing me to do that.”
Students in Caldwell’s class are enjoying his new digital teaching techniques as well. “I love using the HUB because we can express ourselves, and when we do discussions as a group, it is more organized, and we can really hear and learn from one another,” said Emily Peña.
Caldwell is also using the HUB to administer tests and quizzes to his students, and he and fellow Austin teachers are using it for collaboration. “We call ourselves the ‘HUB Task Force,’ and we have really come up with some great ideas on how to share ideas, lessons, and tools,” said Caldwell. “Now, when the ninth-graders have me in a few years, it’s going to be a cake walk.”
Are you using embracing technology to transform your instruction or know another teacher who is? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and share on Twitter using hashtag #HISDdigital.