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Lessons learned from the PowerUp initiative

2016 January 27
by HISD Communications

In 2013, we committed to providing laptops to every high school student through our PowerUp initiative. To make the most of this opportunity, we partnered with the University of San Diego’s Mobile Technology Learning Center to evaluate our work and give us feedback on the best ways to support and develop teachers, and to transform teaching and learning.

As I reflect on this work, here are three lessons I learned:

  1. Purpose and vision must be aligned with student goals: It was critical that PowerUp — a major district initiative — not be an “additional” initiative, existing in isolation. To address this challenge, we created a profile of the HISD Global Graduate with the assistance of diverse stakeholders. This profile defines the knowledge, skills, and characteristics we believe are critical for student success. With this foundation, all the district’s initiatives, including PowerUp, are aligned with the goals represented by the Global Graduate profile.
  1. Challenging traditional systems can spur innovation: Early on in the PowerUp initiative, we found we needed to work together in ways not previously part of our culture. PowerUp pushed us to collaborate more to better support schools and teachers. We also reorganized our district teams so that professional learning experiences integrated curriculum, instruction, and technology — all with the goal of improving teaching and learning.
  1. It is not about the tool, it’s about powerful learning: Thanks to the PowerUp initiative, we understand more than ever the power of technology to create opportunities. Our students now have access to diverse ideas, content, and people to personalize their learning experiences. We are working together to use technology so that our classrooms remain student-centered and students become critical thinkers, problem-solvers, and leaders — all traits of the Global Graduate.

Partnering with the University of San Diego team has helped us become more aware of the needs of our district and understand how to move forward and make changes based on what we’ve learned. This work is just the beginning. Now that all of our high school students have their laptops, we’re continuing to explore ways that technology can improve achievement.

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