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PowerUp Revolution Gathering Speed

2013 November 7
by HISD Communications

If you’re like I am, even if you were a dreamer as a young person, your vision of where technology would take us in our lifetimes was probably limited to the gadgets of science-fiction movies or the promises of two-way wrist radios and picture phones from the comics.

That’s what makes our rollout of PowerUp so exciting. Youngsters you might imagine to be jaded by smart phones, video games and the ability to watch movies and TV on their computers at will – along with their  teachers and parents – are truly embracing this program that will bring every student at 11 high schools their own laptop to use in class and take home to continue their learning. In all, 17,000 students’ learning will be transformed by mid-January, and eventually, every student will be part of PowerUp.

For three of the schools – the Young Men’s and Women’s College Preparatory Academies and Energy Institute High School – Christmas came in October, as they received their laptops, forming the pilot for the one-to-one laptop initiative that’s a key component of our commitment to 21st Century Learning and digital transformation.

Nearly 1,000 parents came to Sam Houston High School recently to learn about good digital citizenship, and additional meetings are going on at participating high schools. That’s parental involvement!

HISD’s Curriculum Department is developing planning guides, online resources, and digital strategies that will increase student engagement and encourage collaboration. Outside the classroom, students will be actively researching, evaluating, and interpreting information, as well as connecting with other students and staying in touch with their teachers.

HISD will continue to collaborate with Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina, which saw their graduation rate jump 33 percent when they gave a laptop to every student in grades 4 through 12. They also saw end-of-course exam scores rise 20 points. HISD leaders from all 11 PowerUp schools will visit Mooresville later this month, and in December, Mooresville representatives will come to Houston to work with the three HISD high schools that already have their laptops.

PowerUp is about more than a new tool – it’s about changing the learning environment. Teachers become facilitators rather than presenters, and students have access to real-time knowledge. This is a districtwide effort with far-reaching effects for every student in HISD. I’m in awe, and you will be, too. It’s way cooler than a two-way wrist radio.

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