Littleton Elementary School District Digital Learning Day 2016

Avondale, AZ | Submitted by Rebecca Coda

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Littleton Elementary School District embarked on a mission to better utilize technology to support instruction not only in the classrooms, but to extend technology assisted learning to the homes. The vision of the Technology Committee was to first equip the classrooms with the ability to project and have sound connected to a laptop and a document camera. Next, the mission was to move on to a 1:1 device initiative and with the support of voters, what started in 2011 with one classroom is now a district-wide initiative impacting 2,600 students.

Of course, with any new project, there is a need for professional development. To increase effectiveness, Littleton trains teachers, students and parents how to use and care for the laptops and the classroom tools which has increased classroom engagement significantly and strengthened the home/school connection. According to Sue Garrison, Deputy of Administration, “As we recruit new teachers, we are seeing that our recent college graduates are craving the latest advancements in technology and embedding it in their instruction. We are proud that Littleton is leading in this area and we believe it will pay off in recruitment and retention of both students and teachers over the long term.”

Overall, the Littleton community has embraced the program whole-heartedly and to this end, the district built a family resource center where, among other things, parents and siblings learn more about the technology and use it as a family. The laptops are intended to be a shared resource, especially for our families that might not have access to technology as readily as some of their neighbors.

Participating in Digital Learning Day was a next logical step. Littleton students get very excited about sharing their learning so last year the Littleton District decided to participate in this national event. This brought the students another opportunity to showcase their learning. It was amazing to see the excitement in the classrooms when the students knew they had an audience. In 2016, more than 60 community members, business partners, parents and elected officials toured the district schools and interacted with students and staff who readily shared projects ranging from using coding to control circuit boards to stop-motion filmmaking using iPads; all while demonstrating the use of the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards in action.

The event was a great success and several attendees shared their thoughts:
• Belinda Balough and Eric Brooks from the Arizona Department of Education Professional Learning Unit said, “[We were] really impressed with the students level of excitement showing professionalism with their presentations. We think it was because their technology use helps them feel empowered. What impressed [us] most was it seemed like students at every grade level are encouraged by their teachers to use technology in a variety of different ways. A number of the students used PowerPoint and coding and we even watched the younger grades and higher levels use it for a variety of different purposes.”
• According to Sandi Nielsen, Littleton Governing Board Member and Avondale City Council Member, “It was amazing. I saw kids writing code, inventing games and doing PowerPoints. We got to see comprehensive digital learning in action across campuses.”
• Melanie Block, Director of Academic Services from the Union Elementary School District, who attended to learn best practices for her district, remarked, “Today was a great experience. Students working on 21st Century standards and skills in diverse settings. It was really empowering to see students using interactive tools and technology in the content areas and all on the computers. Students were able to demonstrate their knowledge using their devices. There is a lot out there that is supporting the schools and the districts and we need to utilize it so we have mastery for all staff and students in a strategic learning process.”

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