Wednesday, August 1, 2012

In the beginning.....

I am Holly Sutherland, the 12th grade assistant principal at Hoover High School in Hoover, Alabama. We are a school serving around 2,600 students with around 200 teachers. Our school district has decided that to better meet the needs of our students and prepare them for the future, we needed to make some changes in our instructional practices. After attending conferences, researching schools around the country, and meeting with the stakeholders groups, we will be implementing the 1:1 Engaged Learning Initiative. I attended the ISTE 2012 conference in San Diego and saw the impact that administrators were having through online collaboration using resources such as Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. I decided that I would share ideas and document the impact that the 1:1 technology initiative has at Hoover High School. If we are going to document a technology initiative, then we need to use technology to do it. My hope this that this blog will be insightful and useful to educators interested in learning more about 1:1 initiatives and will highlight the wonderful things going on at Hoover High School.

SO… here we go!

Engaged Learning Initiative-- Some might question the title of Hoover’s one-on-one technology initiative that has begun for the 2012-2013 school year. This is due to the fact that in Hoover we continually strive to be ahead of the curve with technology and innovative teaching strategies and take pride in the quality of education we provide for our students. The trick is staying ahead of that curve. 

Commonly we hear that educators should be preparing our students for the future. What is the future? What will it look like when our rising freshmen graduate from Hoover High School, when they enter the work force, or when graduate from their chosen university? When we began to ask ourselves these types of questions, we realized that we had to do more. We needed more research on what others around the country were doing to prepare their students for the future. We needed to dig deeper (maybe into our pockets) and find out what “more” is.

For the 2011-2012 school year, we introduced online classes at HHS and had success with these classes, but we still were not doing enough. These classes were providing opportunities for some of our students, those who had home computers and Internet accessibility, but raised questions about equity. Were some students being provided more learning opportunities based on their ability to have home computer access? We still needed more. Mr. Hulin, the principal at Hoover High School, attended the NASSP (National Association of Secondary School Principals) conference in early spring and attended sessions where schools were purchasing iPads for classes, departments, grade levels, and even entire schools as an attempt to use technology to enhance instruction and increase engagement. This got his “wheels turning” as they say. We had some initial discussions as a leadership team at Hoover High School and then he took his idea to Andy Craig, Superintendent of Hoover City Schools. I cannot imagine that all superintendent’s initial reactions would be favorable to buying an entire high school of 2600 an iPad, but I believe that Mr. Craig saw the passion and enthusiasm that Mr. Hulin had about this idea and trusted that he was doing what he thought was best for our students. It was still A LOT of money and Mr. Craig needed to see the use of these devices in action.

So the Engaged Learning Initiative was born with a trip to Texas.

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