Friday, January 31, 2014

Personalizing Learning at the Middle School: Launch of the 1 to 1 Initiative

 Needham middle schoolers working with their iPads

I am excited to announce that the Needham Public Schools 1 to 1 Personalized Learning Committee is recommending the implementation of an iPad initiative at the middle school level, beginning next September in the 6th grade.  After successful and ongoing 1 to 1 iPad pilots in the 7th, 8th, and 12th grades, the committee presented its recommendation to the School Committee for consideration and action.

We seek to create and sustain an environment that is responsive to ever changing technology in a way that enriches student achievement and encourages frequent and high levels of human interaction and collaboration—whether that is through electronic medium or in person.  We believe the iPad 1 to 1 program will strengthen student learning; increase student organization and confidence; and ensure personalized learning experiences become routine rather than random and occasional—for struggling students and for students requiring more challenging curriculum. 

The Committee believes a full implementation at High Rock and the following year in the 7th grade will strengthen teaching and learning and is consistent with the district’s values and goals:

·      Transform the current instructional model so that teachers are better able to help students master concepts that are frequently challenging for them to learn;
·      Provide personalized learning experiences for our students;
·      Empower students and help them take ownership of their learning;
·      Provide opportunities for students to create, communicate and collaborate.  In short, to prepare students as 21st century learners.

The plan calls for parents and students to purchase, lease, or bring an iPad to school with a limited number of loaner iPads available for those who are unable to participate in a purchase/lease program.  It will be critical to have at least 85% participation of students who either purchase/lease or bring a specified iPad if the implementation is to occur.  The District simply does not have the resources to purchase an iPad for each student at the middle school level; we need to depend on 85% of sixth grade students and their families to purchase/lease or bring their own device if we are to improve and enhance the educational experience for our middle school students.

While parents and families are being asked to assume financial responsibility for providing a device the District will meet the infrastructure, personnel and professional development needs to support the 1 to 1 initiative.

If the School Committee votes to adopt the plan, Needham will join several other communities, including Weston, Shrewsbury, Burlington, Wellesley, Millis, and Bedford, all of whom have integrated (or will next fall) the use of iPads into the educational program to engage students and improve the academic environment.

For more information, including the full report and implementation timeline, check out: 1 to 1 Personalized Learning Initiative Report

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