Member Spotlight: Letting Teachers Create a 1:1 District

Township High School District 214, a CoSN member in Arlington Heights, IL, shares the steps they took to implement and fine-tune their award-winning 1-to-1 program:

Have you ever wondered how to build an ideal one-to-one program? There’s no overnight solution, but we found a good one for us.

Using the philosophy behind “flipped classrooms,” our district flipped the one-to-one implementation: administrators stepped aside and let the teachers steer it. Teachers had requested more input into the technology planning process; after all, they see what works (and doesn’t) on a daily basis.

Teachers submit pilot proposals using a three-phased program:

  • Phase 1: Teachers complete Technology Initiative Proposal forms in alignment with the district’s goals, Technology Integration Plan, and District Improvement Plan. The technology committee and principal at the individual school review the proposal and then sign off on it before it’s submitted to the district office. This ensures that the proposed technology will work practically and philosophically.
  • Phase 2: Teachers present their proposals to a group of key administrators
  • Phase 3: After the proposal is approved, they are invited back to share the challenges and successes of the pilot. Teachers are also required to have a digital curriculum in place by the end of the first year and to submit an assessment of qualitative and quantitative data.

The program has been a tremendous success. Teachers have embraced the program and the move to a one-to-one environment, and the program has shown robust growth year after year:

  • Spring 2010 – 9 proposals for iPads and Netbooks: 350 devices
  • Spring 2011 – 22 proposals for iPads, Chromebooks, and Android Xoom tablets: 500 additional devices for a total of 850 devices deployed.
  • Spring 2012 – 59 proposals for iPads: 1,800 additional devices for a total of 2,650 devices deployed. iPads are determined to be the device of choice by teachers.
  • Spring 2013 – 57 comprehensive proposals for iPads: 2,400 additional devices for a total of 5,050 devices deployed.
  • Spring 2014 – 29 comprehensive proposals for iPads: 4,000 additional devices for a total of 9,050 devices deployed to 75% of students.

As you can tell, the program started out slow due partially to budget limitations. This year alone brought $2.4 million in requests, far beyond the district’s $1.3 million budget. And that  may beg the question, how were we able to afford this? We’ve hit on a couple of cost-saving techniques that made the program completely “budget neutral” – no additional funds spent:

  • Computer labs have not been replaced on the normal replacement cycle and the number of labs has been reduced. This has freed up learning spaces and changed the landscape of how the schools use these spaces.
  • Google Apps for Education was adopted 4 years ago, allowing us to re-purpose funds once used for email and Microsoft Office.
  • Digital textbook alternatives was adopted in 2009, freeing up more than $400,000 from the traditional textbook budget.
  • Title I and IDEA grant funds are used where applicable.

Over the past five years, the district has shown positive student growth, with increased Advanced Placement (AP) enrollments, increase in the number of students passing AP exams, and a reduction in Ds and Fs.

Just as we kept teachers involved while planning the program, we count on them to provide professional development surrounding it. Teachers from the first and second year pilots teach an Internal University course called “Teaching with the iPad” using the SAMR model developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedera. SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition)’s goal is to help teachers transform their classroom instruction instead of simply substituting traditional teaching methods on the iPad. Peer observations also provide professional development.

Having teachers steer and own the process has fostered a culture of innovative change and positive student growth. Other districts have followed our process and found the same positive results within their institutions. The program can be replicated locally and nationally. All it takes is a different approach and shift to allow your teachers to be a significant part of the process.