Teachers and administrators from 21 high schools that are joining the PowerUp laptop initiative in the 2014-2015 school year have spent a chunk of their summer getting ideas as to how to best implement the program in their classrooms.
Eleven schools were part of the pilot program last year. They received help from the Mooresville Graded School District, which experienced great success in a similar program, and officials from Mooresville returned to Houston to help the second batch of schools.
“The PowerUp initiative puts technology in the hands of the kids and allows students to be reached in ways that we’ve never been able to do before,” said Scott Smith of Mooresville GSD. Continue reading
HISD school leaders recently got a closer look at the district’s new digital teaching and learning platform that will launch in the coming school year at 48 K–12 pilot schools. It’s called the PowerUp:HUB, and the online platform is part of the district’s larger initiative to digitally transform teaching and learning. During the 2014–2015 school year, all teachers will access the district’s curriculum through the HUB, and teachers at the pilot schools will have access to additional features including a customizable planner, the ability to create assignments and deliver tests and quizzes for students, and the ability to collaborate with their peers to share ideas and education resources.
Principals and school administrators recently underwent introductory training on the HUB and will receive more intense training in early August. “They were able to show us what it could look like and what it will look like in the coming year, and I am really excited about it,” said Highland Heights Elementary School Assistant Principal Raquel Sosa-Gonzalez.
HISD is only one full year into its one-to-one laptop distribution as part of the district’s PowerUp initiative, but that hasn’t stopped students from reaping the benefits of the district’s bold, three-year push to close the digital divide.
Three Sharpstown High School students—Class of 2014 members Kevin Gordwin and Jairo Luna, and junior Keion Jackson—have already landed three of the coveted summer internships available with NetSync, the district’s approved vendor for distributing computers. And, they’re making good money while doing it.
The Houston Independent School District’s efforts to embrace and advance digital content and curriculum have been recognized by the Center for Digital Education, a national research and advisory institute specializing in K-12 technology trends, policy, and funding. HISD will be honored, along with other school districts from across the nation, Monday evening at the Center’s Digital Content and Curriculum Achievement Awards which take place during the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2014 conference in Atlanta. Continue reading
The ability to personalize the learning experience for students is a key component of HISD’s PowerUp initiative, and the district is helping teachers meet that goal with its ongoing conversion to digital learning resources.
Previously, HISD has spent its annual allotment for instructional materials on textbooks, but this spring, about a third of those funds went toward the purchase of either digital materials or resources with a digital component. These materials allow teachers to further differentiate—or tailor—their instruction to individual students. Continue reading
Bellaire High School students and staff are sharing their personal insights regarding the district’s PowerUp technology initiative in a new, student-produced video. Molly Oretsky, Iceland Vu, and Anthea Wilson, who work on Bellaire’s student newspaper and website, Three Penny Press, filmed the recent distribution of student laptops on their campus and interviewed students and staff on how the devices are changing classroom instruction.
Bellaire is one of 11 high schools in phase one of PowerUp, which eventually will give every HISD high school student a laptop to use at school and at home.
[vimeo http://vimeo.com/88799570/ w=320&h=205]
As a teacher at one of the HISD’s 11 pilot PowerUp schools, Mariela Niland is working to include more technology in her classroom at the Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy. Recently, the first-year teacher took part in a unique training that had her and her students swap roles to learn more about the latest and greatest tech tools and web applications. “I want to hear from them what I can do to make my lessons more interesting,” said Niland. “I want to know what digital tools and resources they enjoy using.”
Niland and her YWCPA colleagues got an earful from students who were excited to take part in the table-turning after-school exercise. The format allowed the girls to become the teacher, show off their tech savvy, and share some of their favorite websites.
More than 18,000 students to receive computers this month to use at school and at home
More than 18,000 students are receiving laptops this month as part of HISD’s one-to-one initiative that will eventually give every high school student a computer. The initiative, called PowerUp, not only will offer students 24-hour access to a laptop and a variety of software, but to digital-age instruction that will transform teaching and learning both inside and outside the classroom.
“PowerUp is not about the device,” said Superintendent Terry Grier. “This is about creating anytime-anywhere learning for our students so they can have the world at their fingertips. We want to make sure they learn the skills that complement technology so they aren’t replaced by technology.”
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.”
HISD is partnering with Discovery Education, a branch of the media company Discovery Communications, as the district begins its journey to transform all classrooms into 21st century learning environments. Principals, assistant principals, and deans from the PowerUp one-to-one campuses recently attended a hands-on workshop with Discovery Education to explore some of the digital content and interactive lessons that teachers and students will have access to as part of the district’s digital transformation.