The power of technology to support teaching and learning will be on display today as every UCS school participates in National Digital Learning Day.
All of the district’s schools and specialty programs are participating in a national program that spotlights successful instructional technology practice in classrooms. (See related link for how schools are using technology to support teaching and learning).
“UCS teachers are using the power of technology to engage students in new and creative ways,” Superintendent Dr. Christine M. Johns said. “Utica Community Schools is a recognized leader for the effective use of technology to support teaching and learning.”
At the district level, UCS will use Digital Learning Day to begin a partnership between home and school to reinforce positive digital citizenship skills among its students.
UCS parents will receive information today about the importance of using on-line resources and digital devices effectively and safely.
“Utica Community Schools has made the commitment that, as we introduce ever more advanced technology to provide our students with world-class learning, we will also focus on teaching them responsible digital citizenship and cyberspace safety,” Dr. Johns said. “It is an effort that can succeed only with support from parents and the community.”
The district-wide initiative will continue through the school year and emphasize how parents can work at home to address digital citizenship issues such as cyber bullying, privacy and security, appropriate use of information, and reputations. Programs have been established that integrate digital citizenship concepts into classroom instruction at various UCS schools.
In addition to promoting digital citizenship, Digital Learning Day spotlights the use of technology at nearly 40 UCS school and program sites. Examples of some of the initiatives being featured include:
- Kindergarten Blended Learning – Blended learning takes the best of traditional teaching and integrates technology to support each student’s unique learning style and pace. Kindergarten students experience a blended learning environment each day with iPads, laptops and interactive whiteboards.
- Technology-based Programs – Teachers are using technology to engage students in new ways at their own pace and with constantly updated content. For example, students are using Discovery Education “TechBooks” to promote Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Unlike traditional textbooks, the Discovery Education Science “Techbook” can be updated instantaneously to include new material, and has the ability to meet every student’s learning needs. Students are also using DreamBox software to create individual pathways with real-time assessments that allow teachers to personalize instruction.
- Hardware and Facility Improvements – Technology integration has been supported by recent facility and hardware improvements, thanks to district voter support of bond issues. UCS – one of the first Michigan districts to install wireless networks – has upgraded its system to support high speed, high density access throughout its facilities. Improved access, white boards and high school Electronic Collaborative Classrooms are supporting virtual field trips, from real-time open heart surgery for Medical Health to an international program that allows students from different countries to talk about their favorite books.
- Schoolology – Schoology is an online platform that allows teachers to post files/notes and on-line tests, assign activities, accept homework in an online drop box, communicate goals and objectives, and communicate between parents, students and staff. Schoology is supported by the AP College Board and looks, feels and works like Facebook.
- Home-School Communication – UCS parents have 24-7 access to student grades and attendance through the PowerSchool system. Principals and the district are also communicating with parents through electronic newsletters, social media and a UCS news App – the first of its kind for schools in Michigan.
The Michigan Department of Education, in partnership with the Alliance for Excellent Education, is also a host site for Digital Learning Day.
“This national campaign is designed to celebrate innovative teaching and highlight practices that make learning more personalized and engaging for students, exploring how digital learning can provide all students with the opportunities they deserve - to build the skills needed to succeed in college, a career, and life,” State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said.
For more information on the national event, please visit this link: http://www.digitallearningday.org/