Access to Innovate Middle School Program
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Access to Innovate program?
The Access to Innovate program is a program that is focused on increasing engagement, enhancing and extending standards based learning in the middle school. The program provides an iPad device for students to use as a tool in their learning within and beyond school. Students are expected to bring to school on a daily basis charged and ready for learning. The Triple E framework explains our approach for when and why this tool will be used to support student learning.
Who is impacted by the Access to Innovate program?
For the 2018-2019 school year, sixth graders at Nichols and Haven;, sixth through eighth graders at Chute, Bessie Rhodes, and King Arts;, and fifth graders at King Arts will receive have iPads to use as a tool for learning.
Why does District 65 think the Access to Innovate program is important?
The Access to Innovate program is informed by the Digital Promise program and grant which ran in District 65 from 2014-2017. The Digital Promise program provided an iPad to each student at King Arts and Chute in addition to providing the professional learning and support on how to use the iPad in teaching and learning.
Upon reviewing the program, there were several important shifts that were noted by teachers and students alike. These shifts include:
- Increased exposure to and application of Future Ready or 21st Century Learning and Innovation Skills including critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.
- Increased opportunities to differentiate learning and provide supports and accommodations that allowed students at a variety of levels to access rigorous learning and demonstrate understanding of learning standards
- Increased student agency and independence due to the students’ and teachers’ abilities to pursue standards aligned areas of investigation or interest.
Additional feedback from focus groups highlighted the ability for students to have access to the same learning tool in and out of school allowed them to have greater access to learning and increased collaboration.
What is the background on the Access to Innovate program?
The Access to Innovate program is informed by the Digital Promise grant opportunity that was in place at King Arts and Chute since the 2014-15 school year. You can learn about the Digital Promise opportunity in this memo which was provided to the School Board in December 2016 as an update and to discuss impact of the program. Click here to view the slide presentation. A recommendation was made at that Board meeting to expand the program to other middle schools. Expansion of the program allows for educators at the school and district level to design curriculum with the tool in mind and with the goal of increasing engagement in standards based learning, enhancing standards based learning, and extending learning. An update was provided to the School Board on planning and program development in June 2017 and again in April 2018. The memos provided an update on the planning efforts for the program.
How will the District work to ensure that the program benefits teaching and learning?
The planning team, with input from educators, has made the primary focus of Access to Innovate teaching and learning. The Triple E framework was specifically chosen due to its focus on teaching and learning. Several small teams of teachers are working together this summer to revise existing curricular units so teachers have standards aligned learning activities and units designed to support quality use of the tool to support learning. The District is also providing professional learning over the summer and on an ongoing basis next year to support educators in identifying when the use of technology is the right tool to support improved learning opportunities for our students. The message is that the iPad is one of many tools for learning and can and should be used when it elevates an aspect of the Triple E framework. The schools will also be provided with instructional coaching support to work with teachers to further elevate teaching and learning and to support appropriate use of devices.
How and why were iPads selected for Access to Innovate?
The Digital Promise grant initially provided iPads to the teachers and students in Chute and King Arts as part of the Digital Promise grant. When the decision was made to expand the program, educators at the schools who had not benefited from the Digital Promise grant were asked if they were interested in piloting Chromebooks and iPads to help make a decision on the type of device that would be used going forward. The devices were piloted by a group of educators at Bessie Rhodes, Nichols, and Haven and focus groups were held at King Arts and Chute to discuss the devices, their strengths, challenges and opportunity to support teaching and learning in District 65. Pilot educators completed a technology specifications feedback document and participated in a focus group to gather input on their experience. Student focus groups were also conducted. There was strong input on the strengths and challenges of both devices as a tool for supporting teaching and learning however they each do different things well.
The input from the multiple sources favored moving forward with iPads for several reasons. The iPads have a greater range of tools for creating products that can demonstrate student learning. They are more mobile and allow learning to occur in flexible spaces. They have very supportive accessibility features that benefit all learners in addition to providing greater levels of support for students with learning differences and second language learners. The company also recently introduced a series of improvements to the product that addressed some areas of challenge identified by Chute and King Arts educators including the ability to have multiple windows open at one time and improved classroom management features.
The District is purchasing the iPads with high quality cases and will provide a limited number of carts with keyboards in ELA classrooms to support some areas of functionality where the iPads were not viewed as strongly as the Chromebooks.
How is equity being considered in the Access to Innovate program?
The District has used an equity lens to review the program and inform planning. A primary focus of the work at King Arts and Chute was to create greater equity and access. The Access to Innovate program is providing a pathway for families to have access in and out of school and is prepared to provide support for families where it is needed.
The provision of a shared learning tool also allows students to have access to the tools needed for learning at the time and place where students need to do the learning. Some students need additional time or support to complete the learning. This provides students the ability to continue the work and learning beyond the immediate class time.
The District is also doing work to deepen our understanding of culturally relevant and responsive teaching. The heart of culturally responsive teaching is academic achievement for all children that is driven by students doing challenging cognitive work with increasing independence. Several elements support this work including the need for students to see the work as relevant and connected to them. The introduction of iPads allow for more opportunities for students to investigate, research, and share their learning on connected topics that are important to the student. A second element that supports culturally responsive teaching is the need to support and develop students independence including goal setting, problem solving, and organization. The iPad has the opportunity for students to have greater agency and independence in the work since they have a device that can provide resources in a variety of forms including audio, video or text that can support problem solving and collaboration. Lastly, students have a variety of tools that they can access and master to support organization and demonstration of learning. These are all observations that teachers noted in the work at King Arts and Chute.
What considerations have been made to address digital distractions, screen time, and digital citizenship?
District 65 is taking several steps to address these concerns. In an effort to limit digital distractions, we are building an image for the iPads that will include a limited number of apps and tools aligned to learning experiences in D65 with some additional tools for creativity and STEAM aligned learning. The iPads will not have access to the Apple App store, rather to the D65 app store which will contain a limited number of apps. We are doing this to help keep the focus of the devices on learning.
We are also being very intentional about our messaging and vision for the Access to Innovate program. This is a program focused on building and strengthening our learning opportunities. Our use of the technology will be aligned to the Triple E framework ideas and we will use the iPad as a tool for learning where the teacher and the students are active participants in challenging and collaborative learning. The iPad is a device that can facilitate and enhance this experience. The focus will not be on volume of use but on quality of use. The devices can and should be used when we are increasing engagement, enhancing or extending standards based learning.
The student and teacher experience will include digital citizenship lessons as we all work to increase our awareness of safe and responsible experience. In addition , the District maintains a filter on the devices to help support safe exposure using devices both in and out of school. It is important to understand that filters are helpful but do not replace education and responsible use.
What resources for families are available?
A family handbook will be provided to all families with information on the program, best practices for care, guidance on digital safety, and information on student and school responsibilities for the device. The handbook has a form for families to complete with the student with the goal of facilitating a conversation about care and use. Families will also have an opportunity to purchase insurance for the device to limit cost if the machine is damaged.
When will my student get and have the iPad?
Devices will be distributed a few weeks into the school year (mid to late September) after the initial digital citizenship lessons have been taught and initial beginning of the school year routines are in place. Families will need to review and complete the handbook and necessary paperwork prior to receipt of the device.
Students will have the device in and out of school for the school year. Devices are returned to the school for the summer months to allow for maintenance. The student has the same iPad for three years so the same device will be returned to them in the fall.
How can I get more information?
Triple E Framework: This site provides more detail on the three Es in the framework and can better explain the concepts.
ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education): This site has many great resources including information on student technology standards and digital citizenship. This is also a kid friendly and kid centered video to share the student standards.
Common Sense Media: This is a great resource for supporting healthy technology use, parental guidance and tools including show and app ratings. District 65 draws on the Common Sense Media students lessons for our digital citizenship work.
District 65 Video Capturing some of the innovation work at King Arts and Chute.