One-to-One Initiative Launches at High Schools

One-to-One Initiative Launches at High Schools, Freshman Campuses
Posted on 01/15/2019
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collage of photos of students with new chromebooksStudents at the freshman buildings and high schools returned from winter break only to receive one more present. Nearly 4,000 district-owned Chromebooks were distributed to students in grades nine-through-eleven as part of Lakota’s WE are Empowered initiative.


A festive atmosphere greeted students as they entered their new innovation hubs to collect their laptops. Sometimes it was difficult to tell who was more excited - staff or students. “I loved seeing and feeling the energy in the room as students flowed in and out of the innovation hubs,” said Krista Heidenreich, Director of Digital Learning and Professional Learning for the district. “Students were not only excited to be receiving their Chromebook, but were also intrigued and curious about the newly redesigned learning space - with some students even jumping right into the virtual reality stations.” Each innovation hub is equipped with collaborative learning spaces, virtual reality and green screen technology - all designed to encourage innovation and imagination in the students’ learning.

 

Once they received their Chromebooks, students were encouraged to login and explore the device. The attached stylus and the touchscreen were big hits with the end-users. J.J. Jackson, a freshman at West, was happy that the day had finally arrived. “We’ve been hearing about it for a long time,” he said. “I think we’ll have easier access to websites that we use...that will be closer to our fingertips,” he said.

 

The district began the WE are Empowered initiative in the fall, distributing more than 2,500 devices to students at all four junior schools. Jeff Rouff, principal at Hopewell Junior School, is excited about the changes in student learning he has seen since the launch. “Since the deployment of our devices, it has been evident that student learning is taking place at any time and in any place,” he said.  

 

Ben Brown, principal at Ridge Junior agrees. “Students and staff are now empowered with access to open resources to further personalize the learning experience. Teachers are no longer the ‘gatekeeper of content,’ but more the ‘curators of creativity’,” he explained. “Students and staff have really embraced use of the digital tools on the Chromebook to extend their learning and application.”

 

Lakota Superintendent Matthew Miller has focused on preparing students for one of the four Es after graduation from high school: Enrollment in higher education, Enlistment in the military, Employment or Entrepreneurship. “Information is available at your fingertips in today’s world,” he said. “Our teaching methods must incorporate the use of technology in the classroom to better prepare our students for life beyond high school.”

Twelfth grade students will continue to have access to the same educational experiences as the underclassmen through the use of devices currently available at each high school, as well as having the ability to bring their own device to class. This decision supports the district’s commitment to long-term financial sustainability, given the monetary investment needed to purchase devices for seniors who will be graduating in a few months.

The WE are Empowered initiative gives students more access to real world learning through collaboration with peers and online content. “Technology is not going away,” Miller notes. “It is our responsibility to make sure that our students have the skills they will need to be successful when they graduate. Incorporating technology in our classrooms through the WE are Empowered initiative is another way we are preparing our kids for the future.”

Tanya Kukreja, a junior at East, was thrilled that the district has taken this step. “This levels the playing field for people who don’t have internet access at home,” she explained. “It shows that our school is advancing with society. It shows the progressive nature of (the district).”

 

Rouff echoed Tanya’s sentiment about equity. “Our teachers are more accessible, content is at their fingertips, and all students have the same access to both. This has been a game changer for our students and an opportunity to personalize instruction more effectively for our staff.”

 

Lakota’s teachers have participated in professional development sessions to help prepare them for this shift. “This is such a great opportunity to enhance and even transform the student learning experience through the blending of best practices both from a traditional and now digital, more modern approach,” Heidenreich added.

 

Todd Wesley, Chief Technology Officer for the district, is behind WE are Empowered. “(This)

initiative is designed to empower our students by providing the tools, access, instruction, spaces and opportunities to dramatically expand personalized learning and directly support future ready skills for our students,” he said. “We are looking forward to the amazing ways our students and teachers personalize, empower, and enhance student learning!”