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