Avoca School District #37, in Wilmette, Illinois, developed the following technology plan. It contains three sections:
Creating and Sustaining a Climate of Learning (Overview)
"TECHNOLOGY FOR TEACHING AND LEARNING 1992-95
CREATING AND SUSTAINING A CLIMATE OF LEARNING
Avoca School District #37 has developed a visionary design and innovative plan to integrate technology throughout the curriculum. This plan has enabled us to successfully bridge the gap between a well-defined plan for integration and the effective implementation of that plan over two and a half years time. We began with an inclusive planning process. We developed a plan to integrate technology and a process through which this plan would be implemented. Key to the implementation process has been a professional growth model that connects teacher needs and training with curricular application and innovation.
Components of the Plan
- An overall plan for how we envision the use of technology over the next few years with specific goals for student skills, integration throughout the curriculum, and professional development.
This plan was developed through a process that included wide participation of staff, administrators, and school board. The teams working on the mission, goals, and action plans were selected to include influencial leaders, and persons representing a wide range of interests and technological expertise levels. Consensus-building activities stressed the importance of all voices being heard. Teachers were encouraged to share their worst fears and then their best hopes for the future of technology in education. The entire staff participated in recommending and voting on the best ways to achieve the goals. A feeling of ownership was created from this inclusive participation and recognition of individual needs and interests.
The Staff Development and Technology committees were merged to carry on the implementation of the action plan.
- A spiral model for skill development, which progresses from basic skills through application to innovation levels.
The planning committee regularly assesses the skill development and comfort level of the staff. Goals are revisited, clarified, and revised to address the aspects of change. We recognize that it takes time for staff to move from acquiring basic skills through application in the classroom to becoming innovative and creative in the use of technology.
- A computer loan/buy program for staff with a reimbursement incentive.
A plan was developed jointly between the teachers and the Board for certified staff to receive interest-free loans to purchase computers and printers for their own home use. These loans are paid back through salary deduction over a 24-month period. Staff may choose to be reimbursed for up to the full amount of their loan by participating in professional development opportunities within the district or by taking technology-related classes outside of the district.
- A commitment to offer up to 75 hours of in-house classes for staff each year.
Staff completing 15 hours of technology-related classes receive a $200 reimbursement of their computer loan.
Implementation to Sustain a Climate of Learning
There often is a gap between the best of plans and the resulting level of effective implementation. At Avoca, we have bridged this gap by putting computers directly into the hands of teachers. We also have carefully structured a system of learning to use technology, which creates a positive impact on the instructional program. We have involved and empowered teachers in the total process.
- Assessing Needs: We make frequent and comprehensive needs assessments to determine skill development and implementation with students. Reflections, thoughts, and feelings about the process of learning new skills and about integrating technology within classrooms also are solicited.
- Learning Opportunities: The needs assessments of the staff as well as the overall plan for integration determine the class offerings. Classes are offered on site and taught primarily by our own staff. Classes are usually offered after school and on Saturdays. Completing 15 hours of technology-related classes will earn a reimbursement of $200 on a computer loan.
A regularly held Project HELP day on Saturday mornings allows staff to come together in a collegial atmosphere for mentoring support and technical assistance with classroom applications.
Staff also may propose a class they would like to teach. We make an attempt to involve as many staff as possible in the teaching of the classes. Individual teachers or groups of teachers also may propose their own summer project.
- Communicating and Promoting: An important aspect of our success has been the attention to sharing information and celebrating growth and accomplishments. A monthly newsletter, Technology Updates, contains pertinent information as well as highlights classroom applications. Articles inform, recognize, spark enthusiasm, and keep technology on the mind.
This year we offered our first classes involving students and parents. Presentations have been made to parent groups. The Board is kept informed via Technology Updates and end-of-year reports. Parents and community are becoming involved in the process as we broaden the scope of our program's impact to reach our larger school community.
We are starting to collect samples of student work using technology to create a district-wide portfolio. Our portfolio documents and showcases growth throughout the school community.
- Sustaining, Revising, and Renewing: Yearly checks on the overall level of accomplishment identifies obstacles to achieving goals and ideas for revising the plan. Reflections, thoughts, and feelings about the process of learning new skills and about integrating technology within classrooms also are solicited. These reflections provide more information that permits us to clarify goals and purposes and to reshape actions.
At the Core
Shared decision-making has resulted in ownership. Remembering the needs of individuals in the process of change is a priority. Providing opportunities for direct access to technology and incentives to use it, as well as allowing TIME to learn, apply, and innovate as we facilitate student experiences, have been the core of our success at Avoca.
A mission of Avoca School District #37 is for all students to use evolving technologies, for improving the teaching/learning process, and for enhancing the operation and supervision of its schools.
[Three of the following goals list detailed action steps that were carried out during the implementation years of 1992-95.]
Goal 1: Students will efficiently access, process, and communicate information through the use of technology.
Goal 2: Staff will commit to integrating appropriate evolving technology into curricular areas, beginning with math, science, and writing.
Goal 3: Staff will have equal opportunities to develop proficiency in the use of technology through staff development and collegial support.
Goal 4: Staff will increase their efficiency/effectiveness through the use of technology for curriculum development and for the accomplishment of routine tasks."