Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Digital Learning Update

If you’ve been in or around the schools in North Reading lately you’ve likely seen many new and emerging technologies in the classrooms.  Through investments from the school department,large capital requests, the new building project, and the generous contributions from parent organizations we have increased the opportunities for digital learning in all of our buildings for the 2014-15 school year.

At our elementary schools students continue to receive a technology-infused instructional
approach from our educators who strive to engage students at the highest level.  Our Digital
Learning Specialists collaborate with all educators on using iPads, Chromebooks,
SMARTboards, and many other digital tools to enhance instruction.  One area of focus this year has been in developing a research project that utilizes age-appropriate databases for students in Kindergarten, first, and second grade to allow the students to explore topics in greater depth.

The outcome of this project is often also a digital publication, allowing students to demonstrate
mastery of the skills that they will need to succeed in college and careers. Although North Reading Middle School will not see a new facility until next year, staff and students in the building have had the opportunity to explore new devices this year with students.

Throughout the summer and early fall the facility was updated with interactive whiteboards and
wireless solutions that have allowed teachers to begin using iPads and Chromebooks with
students in classroom spaces as well as the library and cafeteria.  Middle school teachers
continue to use apps with students in many curriculum areas, from Mathematics to Social
Studies to Physical Education.  Science and English Language Arts educators have utilized
Chromebooks with students for research and collaborative projects.  Our Arts programs are
exploring ways of using software to help students increase their understanding and improve
their performance.  Students in the video production club are already accessing equipment at
the new building and in the fall all of the students will be able to experience the resources
available at the new middle/high school.

North Reading High School students entered the year with many new digital learning tools to
enhance instruction.  Throughout the building there are kiosks with the ability to project
messages for students and provide important information throughout the day.  Wireless access
is available to all students and teachers throughout the building, with plans to allow students to
learn more about acceptable use and digital citizenship in order to begin using  their own
devices on the network in the near future.

The performing arts center and distance learning lab contain technology that will provide
students with many opportunities to enhance their learning.  Each classroom includes an
interactive whiteboard, speaker system, and software that allows students to share screens
from individual devices with the entire classroom.  The MediaCAST system will allow students
and teachers to access thousands of digital videos as well as locally produced content to view
on demand.  This could include morning announcements, sporting events, theater performances, and lectures in the distance learning lab.  These tools, functioning together, will greatly enhance concepts like the “flipped” model of education, where students will be able toaccess videos and information on personal devices and watch and rewatch them as much as the individual student needs.  And with many carts of mobile devices, including iPads and Chromebooks, students are able to work throughout the building on projects, internet research, or accessing the MediaCAST library to view the latest uploads.

The Digital Learning Team in the North Reading Public Schools has worked tremendously hard
through a period of great change and have enthusiastically learned new technologies in order to
share these tools with educators and students.  As we look to next year, many of the updated
and reimaged devices from the middle school will be repurposed to the elementary schools and
additional devices will be supported throughout the district.  This is truly an exciting time to be a

student in North Reading!