Guest post courtesy of Erin Frew, Director at New Tech West High School, who will be featured in a panel on Digital Learning Day hosted by eTech Ohio: Leadership’s role in launching and expanding blended learning in Ohio. The panel will take place at WOSU’s COSI studio in Columbus from 5:30-6:30pm. The panel will take questions from the audience and be broadcast on WOSU and other Ohio Public Television stations in the weeks following the event. The recorded forum will also be available on the Ohio Digital Learning website for viewing once production is completed. If interested in attending, please contact Tracy Taylor at eTechOhio by Friday, Feb. 1 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Mr. Drake and Ms. Svigelj’s room, students are creating digital scrapbooks as they research their “family’s” transition from the Roaring Twenties to the Great Depression. Students are discussing the rise and fall of the different family members’ incomes and the economic impact of the political choices made by President Hoover’s government, and finding archival pictures that can best depict those changes. Across the hall in Mr. Dallas’ Health class, students are developing online games for students in the younger grades to improve their understanding of body systems. They have previously researched the state standards in science for grade 6 to determine the depth of knowledge that the students they are addressing should have, and developed a rubric to judge the effectiveness of their games. As this is going on, the Spanish III students in Ms. Marrero’s class are editing their videos that inform the Hispanic speaking community about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Such is a typical day at New Tech West High School, located in Cleveland, Ohio’s Near West Side. One of the few schools in Cleveland with one-to-one technology, NTW uses digital learning to connect student learning to the real world, and by expanding student choice in developing products and solutions to project problems.
Our mantra is that technology is the tool that we use to increase teacher effectiveness and efficiency in personalizing student’s education. For example, we use online resources such as Study Island and Khan’s Academy to provide basic content knowledge at the appropriate level for a very diverse population of students, so that the teachers can concentrate on developing the higher order thinking skills necessary for answering complex problems. Teachers, students, and parents at NTW use Echo to access course resources, project plans, assignments, a multi-dimensional gradebook, online groups, and an extensive library of instructional resources for teachers.
As the director of NTW, I am constantly pushing my staff to think of ways we can use technology to create the opportunity for choice for students. Some students may love mosaic nature of Prezi, while others like to stick with the more linear and familiar PowerPoint. By giving them the choice of what form they use to display their knowledge, they are get more excited about showing off what they know and less consumed by formatting issues or restrictions.
By making every day a day of digital learning, NTW has seen a huge increase in student achievement. We are so excited to continue that progress with digital learning. We look forward to Digital Learning Day at NTW. It gives us a chance to celebrate what we are lucky enough to have in our every day classroom.
* * *
New Tech West (NTW) has a unique mission to equip students with strong social and collaborative skills to produce graduates who are confident learners and are prepared for success in college or the 21st century. NTW opened in 2010 and is located in Cleveland, Ohio. New Tech West was featured last year in Digital Learning as an exemplar of technology in the classroom. New Tech West is highlighted for the Town Hall for Digital Learning day. Take a look at students who are using technology deeply integrated with rigorous projects in a meaningful way.
Guest posts are provided by teachers, coaches, administrators and students working in or attending "World of Learning" schools. They are the unsung heroes of school change, our "boots on the ground" making 21st century learning happen every day.