Technology integration leads learning evolution
Today’s students are digital natives with technology impacting their lives daily. At Gates Chili Central School District, the way students are taught is constantly evolving to meet the world in which they live. Technology has been a part of learning for more than two decades, but it has grown exponentially with individual access for students in grades 2-12. Middle and high school students have the ability to bring the technology home with them, continuing their digital learning beyond the school day. The expanded technology is one way the district is developing 21st-century learners who are engaged and empowered.
“We believe that providing technology for our students has a tremendous impact on teaching and learning,” said Director of Technology Troy Olin. “Our staff throughout the district is leveraging the use of technology in ways that foster studentcentered learning and create self-directed and collaborative learners.”
Fifth-Grade Teacher Nicole Van Aernum uses various forms of technology in her classroom every day. Her students’ content is paperless and organized through the use of tools such a Schoology and OneNote. Students also use Microsoft Office 365 to access documents at home and parents can see what their child is doing in class. Van Aernum said that she has noticed students are becoming more confident learners.
“Students are excited about collaborating and taking ownership of their education,” said Van Aernum. “They are leading lessons by syncing their work into the SMART Board. This type of studentled instruction is helping them become confident problem-solvers, but also keeping them accountable for their work.”
In addition to providing students with the necessary learning tools, this 1:1 initiative has also been crucial in the growth of students as responsible digital citizens.
“In the same way that we teach students how to handle tough situations on the playground, we must teach them about appropriate conduct in the digital world,” said Interim Superintendent Carol Stehm. “Our teachers and staff discuss safe online behaviors with our students and encourage them to report any concerns to an adult.”
A significant amount of progress with the digital conversion journey districtwide came with the implementation of two innovation coach teachers and the development of digital conversion teams at the district and building levels. These innovative staff members continue to provide technology-related professional learning opportunities that focus on high-quality instruction that integrates technology when appropriate.