The Jackson City School District as a whole is a model of system-wide success through technology integration. They have taken remarkable steps to produce a more powerful educational environment. The success isn’t localized – it is systemic, all-encompassing. From the Superintendent, to the tiniest Kindergarten student, technology is seamlessly woven into the curriculum of every classroom at Jackson Independent.
Tim Spencer, Superintendent of Jackson City Schools
Superintendent Spencer wants his students, teachers, and his entire school community to be the very best they can be. And being at the top of their game in technology allows his school district to be at the forefront of education. Spencer wanted everyone in the district to be on the same page. He envisioned parents reading student blogs, looking at web pages, and understanding just how important technology is, not just in the classroom, but also in everyday society.
Spencer uses terms like “100% Buy-in” and “All-in” when talking about technology integration. Having administration, teachers, and technicians all working together was the only way this would work. The district decided on the iLife Trainings and resolved to make this training more effective, more powerful. It proved to be the most valuable training the district had ever had. Every teacher built a webpage, a student blog, and a homework blog. Every teacher came on board ready to embrace this change. Teachers that had been in the classroom for 30 years are learning new tools, driving the project, setting the tone and setting an example for other teachers.
Superintendent Spencer then proposed a Lesson Plan trade off. Instead of submitting weekly lesson plans, he allowed them to work on their classroom websites, and update homework blogs. Every Monday morning Spencer checks the teachers sites, contacts those that need additional help, or recognizes those that have succeeded. This lesson plan project allows a certain transparency to the classroom, giving not only the superintendent, but also the students, parents, other teachers a chance to see inside the classroom. Technology empowers Jackson Independent teachers, making them more confident in the classroom.
Jeff Coots, Technology Coordinator
When a teacher came to Coots and said, “I want to do this, I want to make an impact,” he knew they had done something right. The district wanted students to learn, to retain what they need to know, and inspire them to be better. Regardless of what grade, Coots knew that if he could get the latest technology into their hands, the teacher would be more effective. This same teacher continued, “I THINK MY KIDS WILL LIKE THIS; I THINK THEY’LL GROW FROM IT.”
With core content as the focus, classroom sites drive home concepts and give students the tools to take ownership of their learning. The technology supports curriculum and facilitates communication. The teachers are thriving, the staff is thriving, but the #1 key is that THE STUDENTS ARE BENEFITTING.
Students have their own sites, their own blogs. Cheri Arrowood, 2nd Grade teacher, says her students have been very excited about the technology project. She believes that any type of technology enhances learning. In her classroom she uses it to enhance every single subject she teaches. “It’s not just working on computers,” she says. “It’s enhancing the classroom knowledge and content.”
Change is Good
Oftentimes, especially in education, there is resistance to change. But change is inevitable, and often leads to progress. Technology is a transparent part of children’s lives. Jackson City Schools acknowledged that technology has changed the way teachers teach and students learn. It is key to success in the 21st Century classroom, and they took steps toward change. When teachers, staff, and technicians work together to accept and embrace a change like this one, the students can effectively reach their goals. Technology has become a seamless part of the learning process here. The perspective, the attitude, and the entire landscape have changed. And, as demonstrated in Jackson City Schools, change is good.
We are thrilled to award the Overall Champions Package to Jeff Coots, whose work not only on the Jackson City Schools webpage, but on his AP Calculus and Geometry classroom webpages, has set a remarkably high standard, and inspired an entire school district to embrace and celebrate change.
We couldn’t award Coots the Overall Champions Package without also recognizing and awarding four other exceptional teacher websites in Jackson Independent that have grown and achieved success this year. For these teachers that went above and beyond, Dataseam is giving an added bonus. The following four teachers will each receive an iMac and iPod for their classrooms: Cheri Arrowood, Jessica Bowling, Sarah Wolfe-Trent, and Dixie Combs. What’s incredible about this “Fab Five” in Jackson City Schools is that they are representatives of an entire school district that is extending the learning in their classrooms in powerful ways. Visit their webpages, watch their videos, and see just what the integration of technology can do.