Becoming Future Ready at West Warwick
It is amazing the impact one decision can have on a school department. This has been our experience in the West Warwick Public School Department with the implementation of our 1:1 Chromebook initiative this year. We were able to purchase the devices for the entire district which has brought a rapid transformation in our instructional culture. This next big step was perfectly timed to align with the Future Ready initiative launched by the U.S. Department of Education. This fall, along with thousands of other Superintendents, I signed the Future Ready Pledge promising, by using the Future Ready Framework, to move the district quickly towards preparing all students to be college and career ready.
Throughout the year there has been a tremendous focus on our technology efforts. One of the highlights of the year took place in April when we hosted one of the 12 Regional Future Ready Summits. This was an exciting two days of sharing best practices with other districts from around the country, as well as team time with our own district to plan our next steps. The Future Ready Framework focuses on 7 gears or tenants of best practices. Throughout the summit, our work focused on the central point of the gears; student learning. We are committed to not lose sight of our goal of student centered learning.
An essential cornerstone of our district is the collaborative nature of our staff, and our 1:1 initiative has been no different. Starting with putting hardware in the hands of every member of our school community, the opportunities for blended learning has opened up exponentially! Teachers are so grateful and revitalized about their new Chromebooks, they have eagerly engaged in voluntary and district driven professional development opportunities. Conversation has revolved around best practices and how to effectively integrate the Chromebooks into their classrooms daily, as well as teach their students how to best use them outside of the school day. Teachers have invested their own time to develop their practice, taking risks in their classrooms to try new strategies, and willingly sharing with each other in a variety of ways including blogging, through social media, and in professional learning communities.
One of the most rewarding and exciting outcomes of our 1:1 initiative has been students as teachers. We know that one of the best ways we demonstrate our own learning is when we can teach it to someone else. Our students regularly partner or work in small groups learning together. We frequently see students functioning as mentors to younger students, migrating from classroom to classroom teaching each other how to maneuver around the internet, use various applications, and even writing code! At times our students have addressed adults in forums designed for teachers and administrators to discuss their expertise using Chromebooks and how they are integrated into their educational experience.
With the roll out of our 1:1 technology and our commitment to the Future Ready initiative, we have seen an exciting, revitalizing, rewarding shift in our educational culture. Supporting our students to be Future Ready is far beyond putting hardware in the hands of students and teachers. Future Ready means our students are embedding 21st Century skills in their thinking process giving them the power to think critically, problem solve, collaborate, and stretch their own learning through teaching others. After reviewing our data from our first full year of 1:1 implementation over the summer, we are excited to start a new year and take our next steps in blended learning!