JPS Teachers Invest in Technology

With an “app” for just about anything, Jenison teachers are learning that the best “app” for this upcoming school year is spending the day intensively training for a new year with new technology.

To do that, we welcomed Mr. Andy Losik, Apple Distinguished Educator and 2009 Michigan Tech-Educator of the Year, to kick off our professional development yesterday. His keynote challenged teachers to consider the many varied ways that technology can hook, engage, and keep kids focused on exploring and learning. With the early morning charge still echoing in the hallways, teachers left with purpose and embarked on the next frontier: a full day of pull-out seminars with literally dozens of topics from which to choose.

Learning opportunities during the pull-outs were staffed almost exclusively by Jenison teachers instructing their colleagues. They included: Creating Presentations on Your iPad, Student Presentations with Pizzazz, Creating Student ePubs, Blogging Made Simple, I Love My Document Camera, Screencasting Tools to Benefit Students, and many more!

All of this work comes on the heels of the district expanding its technological reach with the purchase of several hundred iPads for teachers and staff. Funds from the recently passed Bond Issue made the expansion possible, and teachers are thrilled to incorporate powerful tools into their teaching.

“We recognize that for most of our students, technology like smart phones and iPads are part of everyday life. Now, instead of separating kids from their devices when they walk through the doors, we’re empowering teachers to embrace technology and use it to their advantage,” said Dr. Brandon Graham, principal of Jenison High School.

We salute our amazing teachers for modeling what it looks like to be lifelong, eager learners. The students of Jenison Public Schools will be richly rewarded by your hard work and willingness to learn!

Student Technology Forums

How many of you reading this would struggle through the day if you left the house without your cell phone? Or if your laptop was broken?

Would you feel like part of you was missing?

We’re finding that our students can often times relate! They have been raised in a digital age where many have been given cell phones well before a driver’s license, and educators are realizing that we must begin to meet them where they’re at. To listen; to strive for mutual understanding.

So this winter we reached out to both Jenison High School and Jenison Junior High students for their input. A select group of kids has been interacting with district leaders, teachers, and myself around the issue of technology and how to best allocate our bond dollars in that arena.

I like how Dave Tchozewski, JPS Director of Information Technology explained our goal: “We want to give students a voice with how we proceed with implementing technology in the district. We want to ask the questions, ‘How do you live in your world–and how can the school meet you where you live?'”

Mr. Tchozewski and I stressed to the students that many factors go into making decisions of this magnitude, such as gathering staff input and considering the guidance offered by our technology advisor, consultant Bret Emerson of Commtech Design.

We noted that our efforts in spending the bond money are two-fold. Our goals are:

  • to improve infrastructure to accommodate the numerous devices being brought to school with permission from a teacher and for educational reasons (Netbooks & laptops from home, smart phones, iPads, etc.)
  • to update current technologies to make learning easier and more seamless for students.

Years ago we asked students to “power down” when they got to school. The message we sent, inadvertently, was that from 8 am – 3 pm, they had to change the way they interacted with the world; change the way they gathered information and formed opinions about current events.

What we’re realizing in this forum process is that boundaries still exist and boundaries are still necessary.

However, we’re realizing more than ever that part of our job is to prepare kids to succeed in a world full of digital devices. 

Our job is to help them develop intelligent filters for what they read and see.

Our job is to get them ready to take the next steps as lifelong learners.

And right now, that means we are learning from them.

Question for the Community: How have you seen the demand for technology skills increase in your own workplace?