As reported in the Daily Herald, this fall Huntley 158 will cement its status as the largest school district in Illinois to fully implement 1:1 Learning in grades K-12.
Under the District’s Always Initiative, an umbrella concept focused on developing programs that break down the barriers of the traditional school day, the 1:1 rollout will be completed when Huntley High School juniors and seniors receive Chromebooks at the start of the 2016-17 school year. Those two classes are the only remaining who have not experienced 1:1 Learning in Huntley 158.
The District’s 1:1 rollout began four years ago with a pilot program at Martin Elementary School. Since then, program has expanded to all elementary and middle grades. Last year, HHS freshmen received Chromebooks. Both those students and incoming freshmen will bring with them devices they received last year.
“Certainly we are the biggest (district) in Illinois that is all one-to-one K-to-twelve,” Huntley 158 Superintendent John Burkey told the Daily Herald. “It was a four-year process. I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished as a district.”
Quantity with Quality
Huntley 158 has become recognized for its efforts in learning innovations not simply for the size of its programs, but more importantly for the high degree of success in integrating new learning formats into the curriculum, Burkey said. Staff members have presented at a number of statewide and professional conferences on the success of its 1:1 and Blended Learning initiatives.
“Just having the devices doesn’t make us good at it. It’s how we’ve used the devices,” Burkey said. “This will be a completely evolving thing every year. We do not take the approach that all learning should be on a computer. It’s a tool that we are using for much of our instruction but certainly not all of it.”
Throughout the growth of its program, Huntley 158 has provided a number of professional development opportunities to help teachers adapt their classrooms and teaching methods.
Over the summer, HHS hosted #GrowHHS, a professional development conference to help its own teachers prepare for a fully 1:1 environment. Hosted at McHenry County College, the conference featured 17 breakout sessions as well as a number of keynote presentations by both experienced teachers within the District and experts from other districts and organizations.
It’s one example of the District’s commitment to using technology as a tool for learning, not simply as an end in and of itself.
“Our curriculum is not based on the device,” said Shelly Kish, HHS associate principal who oversees curriculum, instruction and assessment. “We are just using the device to enhance what we are already doing.”
A Team Effort
Beyond preparing teachers for a new world of learning, key to the success of the initiative has been teamwork among many departments throughout the District. The Technology Department has worked diligently since the dawn of the pilot to coordinate the purchase, formatting, software installation, and other important setup work for all of the District’s approximately 11,000 personal learning devices.
In addition, it spearheaded alongside the Operations and Maintenance Department the building of a wireless internet infrastructure in all schools needed to accommodate all those devices.
Staff members in the Center for Learning and Innovation (Curriculum) Department have played a large role in developing best practices and ensuring that enhanced curricular opportunities align with federal and state standards.
In addition, school-level staff have worked with instructional leaders each year of the program to coordinate curriculum night events to acclimate both students and their families to using the devices.
Finance and administration staff have played a key role in both managing the financial implications of a major initiative and securing device protection insurance plans to protect students when devices are damaged.
Ultimately, the commitment required hinges on the motto that guides all staff members to provide a learning environment that meets the needs of every student: All Students Always.
To learn more, read the full article in the Daily Herald.