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Next August, district to provide laptops to Clay students

Oregon City Schools’ five-year technology plan includes a focus on wireless, technical support, professional development, textbook adoptions, and other new provisions for all buildings.

“Our graduating seniors know full well that the collegiate environment demands that all students have a high level of computer literacy in order for them to be successful. Our district wants to ensure that each child is abundantly prepared for any endeavor they choose to pursue,” Superintendent Dr. Lonny J. Rivera wrote in the district’s monthly publication, the Oregon Oracle.

iPads1a
In the eighth grade Gifted and Talented
Language Arts class, Ryan Twining and
Nicolai Salgau use iPads to display their
work on a classroom screen. (Press photo
by Ken Grosjean)

The plan extends through the 2017-18 school year. The basis of the plan was developed over the past year and a half and is made possible through a 2-mill permanent improvement renewal levy passed in May 2013. The levy costs the owner of a $100,000 house $61 annually, and generates about $1.1 million revenue annually, board member P.J. Kapfhammer told The Press.

“We are in the beginning stages of moving the district’s technology forward in a significantly advanced fashion,” said Technology Director Dawn Schiavone.

Schiavone says the focus of the plan is an implementation of a one-to-one initiative, which entails providing a district-owned mobile device to students. She said enhancements to the technology environment were inevitable. 

“As school districts strive to implement the (state’s) Common Core standards and welcome more rigorous, online exams in 2014, we need to ensure that teachers and students have the tools they need to prepare to succeed on these next-generation assessments,” Schiavone said.

This year at Fassett Junior High, the district provided each teacher with a laptop and iPad as instructional tools and an iPad to each seventh and eighth grade student as a learning tool.

Students are now receiving content digitally from teachers and teachers receive projects and assignments digitally from students through use of email, websites, and learning management systems. Schiavone says an LMS is “a digital version of the classroom where teachers can distribute materials, interact with the students, and conduct assessments – all through the use of technology.”

“As has already been evident in the Fassett iPad one-to-one initiative, the technology becomes the textbook, paper, and pencil of today,” Schiavone said.

“As the district plans for new textbook adoptions, attentiveness will be placed on digital versions. Publishing companies have not progressed with interactive digital textbooks as quickly as school districts would have hoped, but they are getting there. As each year passes, the possibilities are growing.”

“Rarely does a textbook travel to and from school. The staff and students hit the ground running in August and have not looked back since. Classrooms have been forever transformed at Fassett,” Schiavone continued.

In November, staff members at Clay High School received iPads and this spring will receive laptops in preparation for the next phase, which includes providing a laptop for each student. High school students will receive their devices in August.

“Initiatives need a starting place. Starting with our junior high and high school made the most sense to our committee,” Schiavone said. “Now that Fassett is up and running and Clay is close behind, we will then continue with technology enhancements to Eisenhower Intermediate School and our three elementary schools.” 


Onto intermediate, elementary schools
In the third year, the district plans to move onto Eisenhower Intermediate School, though specific devices have not yet been determined.

Schiavone says each phase of the initiative provides benefits to the district.

“For example, as Clay High School implements its one-to-one program next year, it provides the district the opportunity to reallocate devices from Clay to Eisenhower Intermediate and the elementary buildings; Coy, Jerusalem, and Starr,” Schiavone said. “The additional equipment will provide the ability to create mobile carts of iPads and additional computer labs for student use in those buildings.

“The following year, as Eisenhower moves to their one-to-one environment the elementary buildings benefit once again as all of the devices from Eisenhower can be reallocated to the elementary buildings. It continues to be a win-win for all students in the district.

“Years four and five of the five-year plan bring focus to the elementary buildings. Though specific devices have not yet been determined, mobile carts are common and beneficial programs for elementary students. Discussions will be held to determine what would be best, at that time, for those buildings.”


Enhancing wireless
In addition to the “easy to see” items such as laptops and iPads, Schiavone says there are other elements of the initiative that are not “so visible.”

“Enhancements of wireless capacity will need to be made in each year of the plan to provide coverage that is needed in order to support the additional devices in any particular building. Also in the plan is a provision for additional tech support,” Schiavone states.

“We are more than doubling the devices that we currently have in this district by implementing this type of initiative and so we need to make sure that we have the tech support in place to ensure that these programs are successful.”

She says this includes technical support staff that will travel to all buildings as well as those that will remain in one location to support that individual building.

Schiavone says another important piece of the plan is professional development of the staff.

“It is so important for the teachers to be comfortable with their new devices and have time to plan their instruction well in advance of having a classroom full of students with devices,” she said.

Schiavone says the plan puts the new devices in the teachers’ hands well before the students receive their new devices. She says the teachers will receive instruction on utilizing their new devices with ample time to practice before the students receive their devices.

The teachers will also have continual training opportunities to assist them with incorporating the new technology into their curriculum. One of the district’s tech support individuals will be a “technology coach” — an integration specialist that can also serve as a trainer to work with the teachers to provide individual, small group, grade level, building or district-wide professional development specifically for technology integration.

The plan also includes miscellaneous upgrades, replacements, and additions for the remainder the district.

“Each and every year we need to make sure that technology needs are addressed in each and every building,” Schiavone said.

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