“People come to see Mooresville GSD to see laptops. They leave talking about culture” Dr. Mark Edwards
I met Mark Edwards at a School Library Journal Summit in 2014; he was the morning keynote speaker and I was lucky enough to share a table with him for lunch. Mark is the superintendent of Mooresville School district, whose “digital conversion” is cited by the DOE, the White house and a multitude of organizations and visitors, as a symbolic success. In August 2008, Mooresville distributed 2400 MacBooks to each of their high and middle school students; today each student in grades 3 -12, in addition to all teachers are each allocated a MacBook Pro. Mark is an accomplished public speaker,butt his message comes from the heart; It’s not about the technology, it’s about supporting, encouraging, and honoring every child, every day.
Details about Mooresville’s digital conversion can be found on their district’s site, and I highly recommend Mark Edward’s inspirational book, Every Child, Every Day: A Digital Conversion Model for Student Achievement, which clearly communicates the need for: formidable planning and preparation, building an “all in” culture, community buy in, ubiquitous leadership and intensive data collection. Marks’ valuable insights include:
- “All in means that every adult and every student counts in a major way, and every adult and every student is counted on in a major way-and we want them to know it”
- “You have to trust kids more than you’ve ever trusted them. Your teachers have to be willing to give up control.”
- Partnering with community businesses to provide broadband to all in need households and local establishments.
- Creating a celebratory environment for Deployment Day.
- Continual professional development, including summer institutes.
- “Students need to see a direct connection between what they do in school and their futures”
- Continual support for students
- Cost: (2014) $1.25 per child per day, including hardware, software and online resources
My friend Carolyn Foote is the librarian at Westlake High School, just outside Austin, TX, and has been integral in her district’s implementation of a successful 1 to 1 iPad program. I spoke to Carolyn last night via Google chat, (as not to bother her husband while watching yet another primary debate!). Highlights Carolyn shared include:
- Started with a 40 teacher pilot; 1 to 1 for 5 years in the HS, 3 years in the district.
- Instructional Tech Coach at each campus and iPadpalooza Summer conference.
- Process Blog
- Just finished 6 month evaluation process, chose iPads again!
- Funded through bonds.
- Students keep ipads for a few years… they can pay insurance to keep them through the summer.
- Managed through Casper Jam and Self Serve App, which students use to download apps.
- A must includes commitment from administrators at each campus
This School Library Journal article shares Carolyn’s iPad experience.
My son, Charlie, shares his 1 to 1 Macbook Air experience. Highlights include:
- Family responsible for $90- insurance fee.
- Learning curve for teachers and administrative processes.
- “Changed the way we learn” Example “reversed” classroom…flipped!
- Better than BYOD because there are no excuses!
- Tech issues are minor to non-existent.
- Classroom management: “would be no different if we didn’t have computers. Students would still be inattentive if we didn’t have computers, just in different ways.”
- Sometimes take notes on paper/printout. “Physically writing stuff down can help you recount it better”
- Computers vs Chromebooks? In HS need applications, such as excel, word and those we find to use personally.
No matter the device, key to successful implementation of a 1 to 1 initiative is continuous support for teachers and students, an all in flexible attitude and an agreed upon move towards student centered learning practices. Personally, I like Kathy Shrock’s advice in a recent Edweek Article, The complete guide to picking the right device for every grade level, where she recommends: full size iPad carts for grades PreK-1, iPad minis with keyboard carts for grades 2-4, 1 to 1 home to school Chromebooks plus full size iPad carts to share between classrooms for grades 5-8 and 1 to 1 home to school laptops plus full size iPad carts to share between classrooms for grades 9-12.
Our current reality, however, is that 1 to 1 access is only a dream for too many public school students in the United States. I attended a workshop a few weeks ago with New York City School District teachers and administrators and was blown away by the difference in tech availably in schools in the very same city. How can we ever hope to solve current, desperate levels of inequality which permeate every aspect of our society, if we can’t figure out how to create a system of education which gives its students an equal opportunity for success.
12 thoughts on “Every Child, Every Day”
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I loved your post, and the people you spoke with offered a lot of information! Something that stuck out for me was the families being responsible for the insurance fees. I do understand the need for the students using the devices providing funds for the devices, but what happens if a family can not financially handle that fee? I think right now, this is the biggest barrier for 1:1 devices in some poorer school districts. It’s a double edged sword – if you ask the families to put in some money, they take more ownership and will be more careful. But if they can’t afford it, and they put no money in, they don’t take as much ownership of the device. And how do you handle that? Do you say if you can’t pay the fee you don’t get to use a device? If that happens, you then you have a class where some students have a device and some don’t, and it is no longer a 1:1 initiative.
I am focusing on “You have to trust kids more than you’ve ever trusted them. Your teachers have to be willing to give up control.” Millie also mentions it and it’s good to see.
Here in Finland trust and self ownership is a huge part of their education system. They do not coddle and over protect the way we do. They are not constantly testing… students are expected to learn. When elementary school kids go out for physical education or recess and it is cold (they go even if it is -30 F) they dress themselves. Since I am a stay at home dad I have not made it to many schools but in my one high school visit I saw students unsupervised during study hall. Several couches were in a common area and students sat there. One even played a guitar. Others walked around or sat on a window seat. There is trust. My wife talked to a high school science teacher who was out for a week at a conference. She had a sub for two out of the 5 days… the other three days the student did their work unsupervised. Trust.
How much of this would happen in a public school in the US?
I really enjoy your blog posts. This one is no exception. They are easy to read and informative. You stay on message really well. Nice to see our teacher in your post this week! I’d be interested to learn more about Mark Edwards and his success story. It’s refreshing to hear that he downplays the fact of the technology and focuses on the content of the teaching. I assume he cites in his talks how and why the MacBooks help student learning. We are all so on the bandwagon of 1:1 being a desirable goal that it is interesting to me to learn that in certain countries especially in Europe parents are resisting the implementation of devices in the classroom. They feel that devices are weakening minds rather than leveraging technology. Your mention of culture made me think of this even though I realized afterward that you were refering to school culture not Culture, Culture. Many in Europe believe that education is a process of forming and training the mind to think in certain ways. Latin is said to activate brain processes which is the purpose of teaching it, not for any directly applicable result. The idea of education as a way to acquire culture rather than learn a set of skills to succeed in the ever more technologized economy seems old fashioned today but like a lot of things European, challenges our current thinking about tech in ed. I’d be interested in your thoughts.
Thanks Dave! I only had one pic of me with Carolyn, and it was awful, so I chose the next best thing! Interesting about your findings in Europe. Their thoughts with regard to “education is a process of forming and training the mind to think in certain ways,” (thinking disciplinary thinking?) seems logical, especially since the skills necessary today, won’t necessarily be necessary in the future. However, I’m not sure that technology inhibits this focus…when used effectively. I do often see students using tech tools to create “oo-ah” creations, which require little by way of thinking skills or learning dispositions. It’s always a balance!
Hi Deb, Yes I agree with you and I also value your opinion and insight. I like to take oppossing positions sometimes on topics. Maybe just my New York style argumentative style! but also because my learning style is to challenge ideas and then look at them again. I am not anti techonology in the classroom and I rely on it with my work. I do have concerns like most of us about the excessive screen time we all have including myself, my children and my students but I also believe this may be a developmental phase in the path to a deeper, more meaningful integration of technology in our lives and learning.
I really enjoyed your reading about your interview with your son. Sometimes we forget that students are an integral part of this 1:1 initiative and we need to consider their perspective. First, glad they are using Macbooks. Personally, I feel they are a much superior product and much more durable than other brands. Second, I think a $90 insurance fee is very reasonable and something a lot of families can work around. Also, it can be something for low income families to work out with the school if they cannon afford the fee. This ensures equal access to technology. Something I did not expect is a student to say taking physical notes might be more beneficial than having a computer print out. Chromebooks are a nice alternative for low cost options but some advanced computer classes require more applications. Although Google is taking over the world so they may develop an app for everything.
I agree about the pen to paper note taking comment, but I have to say that my son in college would probably say the same thing! Personally, I’d like to delve deeper into figuring out and teaching students about Sketch noting, http://www.schrockguide.net/sketchnoting.html, is also a worthy topic in a 1 to 1 conversation, especially with regard to devices, since virtual sketch noting truly requires a stylus enabled screen
Hi Millie, I’m not sure with regards to my son’s district, however, in Mooresville, the district pays for those who can’t afford it. I would imagine, that to be the case in most districts, although I’m not sure how that determination is made.
Your comment about giving up control as difficult for teachers, hits home. I might go as far as saying that this issue impedes the move to student centered learning practices. It is definitely worthy of discussion and research at all levels.
I currently use Google Drive apps with my middle school students so it was interesting hearing your son’s perspective with regards to his preference of Word over Google Docs. I also appreciate that you agree that teachers need support whether it be from a tech specialist or professional development.
I was also surprised by my son’s comments with regard to Google apps …which work fine for my needs! For ex, I never use word, unless I need to open up a document which someone sent me in Word! I do know that excel, for example, offers way more than Google spreadsheets, however I’m not sure how much functionality HS students need on any kind of regular basis. Although I think getting a student’s perspective is worthy… he is 17!
Trusting our students is key and letting go of some control is also very important, but can also be very difficult for some teachers. I do like the idea about the parents paying the insurance fee, but what happens to those families that do not have the funds? Does the district have some sort of assistance in place for that type of situation?