W hen new leadership as- sumed responsibility for the Glen Cove School District back in 2005, it was in dire need of a makeover. State test scores were dismal, and its high school had fallen onto the New York Schools in Need of Regents Review list. Failed budgets had forced the district to perate under contin- gency restrictions, in- cluding a moratorium on the purchase of any new equipment. As a result, the district’s infrastructure fell into utter disrepair, the newest computer equipment dated back to 1997, and the teachers and students had given up on working with any technology, in- cluding the Internet and e-mail, in the classroom. It was time for a complete—and col- laborative—overhaul for this Long Island school district. Here’s how we turned it into a model of success in three short years, using technology as the foun- dation for a whole new instructional program.
business was to articulate our instructional philosophy so we knew where
we were headed.
Based on well-researched pillars of
instruction (Wiggins and Mc Tighe’s
Teaching for Understanding, Harvard’s Project Zero’s Teaching for
Understanding, differentiation, con-structivism/inquiry, and social and
emotional learning), we determined
that our goals for learning are to develop deep understanding and foster
kids’ natural curiosity. To get there, we
needed to start differentiating instruction based on interest and ability and
make our plans with the end in mind.
It was a tall order. And the best way
to accomplish it, we decided, was to
use technology to drive learning and
teaching by inspiring creativity, passion, and innovation.
Of course, that meant we had to
start from scratch. We had to make
technology widely available in many
different, loosely structured forms,
and we had to put it in the hands of
From the Ground Up
Given our limited budget, our allocation of resources had to be strategic.
Although technology can serve many
purposes, we decided that its purpose
at Glen Cove is to inspire students,
feed curiosity, stimulate critical thinking and problem solving, and facilitate
communication. We also have found
that technology makes it easier to
teach for understanding, to differentiate instruction, and to allow students
to infer and conjecture.
Our implementation philosophy
emphasizes individuality over conformity. We foster interest and skill
in the staff. Then we ask them to put
the students first when choosing technologies to integrate into their lesson
plans. What will be the technology’s
effect on student interest and learning? Will it support deep understanding, differentiation, or an inquiry/
Instead of distributing technology
institutionally—giving all fifth grade
classrooms interactive whiteboards
Although technology can serve many purposes,
we decided that its purpose at Glen Cove is to inspire
students, feed curiosity, stimulate critical thinking
and problem solving, and facilitate communication.
As the new assistant superintendent,
I headed up a district technology
committee charged with investigating the technical, administrative, and
instructional components of technology in the district. Our first order of
Glen Cove School District received the 2009 Sylvia Charp Award for District Innovation
in Technology. ISTE and T.H.E. Journal co-sponsor this annual award in honor of the
late Sylvia Charp, who was the founder and editor-in-chief of T.H.E. Journal as well as
an ardent lifelong supporter of ISTE and its mission.
The Sylvia Charp Award recognizes school districts that exhibit effectiveness and
innovation in applying technology district-wide. Criteria for the award include:
To learn more about this and other ISTE awards, visit www.iste.org/awards.