Friday, March 2, 2012


On February 1, Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard traveled to Herbert Spencer Technology Academy, 214 North Lavergne Avenue, to demonstrate space-age technology while teaching astronomy to more than 400 middle school students in 19 classrooms of 10 schools simultaneously. The occasion was the first National Digital Learning Day, the first in a series of digital initiatives during the week, providing principals, teachers, and students with increased access to technology and online learning opportunities designed to boost student achievement. “Developments in technology are opening doors to exciting new opportunities to expand learning in the classroom,” said Jean-Claude Brizard. “We need to equip our students with the skills needed to be competitive in this global economy. Exposure to digital learning tools is key in giving them an edge as they prepare for both college and career.” To demonstrate the impact of digital learning, CEO Brizard, a former physics teacher, taught a science lesson to middle school students at Spencer Technology Academy by using an iPad. The lesson, which focused on gravity and the solar system, was broadcast to nearly 400 additional middle school students in 19 remote classrooms at 10 additional CS schools. As part of the lesson, students used Orbits iPad application to explore the relationship between the mass of celestial bodies and their orbits. At the end of the lesson, students used iPad applications to create narrated screencasts explaining what they learned. Last fall, CPS expanded its iPad Initiative to 39 additional elementary schools, providing students with access to innovative learning options that aim to increase student time on task and boost academic achievement. The CPS iPad Initiative includes 62 schools serving 10,000-plus students this school year. CPS is also responding to recommendations from teachers on expanding access to digital learning tools in the classroom by lifting the districtwide ban on YouTube access for teachers and staff. CPS received feedback from 600 CPS teachers through the Viva Teachers Chicago Ideas Exchange, a partnership between the Viva Project and National Louis University, on implementation around the Full School Day. Feedback included providing access to YouTube and similar websites to allow teachers increased flexibility, quantity, and variety of education materials. Additional Internet access also allows teachers to be more creative and individualized in their instruction, which can lead to an increase in student engagement. On January 30, Brizard became the first CPS CEO to host a live “tweet” and personally answer questions from parents, teachers, and community members on the District Twitter feed, @ChiPubSchools. Over the past several months, the Education Technology Department of CPS has focused on improving teaching and learning by providing transformational technology opportunities and curricula aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Some of the initiatives include: • Providing YouTube access to expand online learning tools for teachers. • Implementing innovations in the classroom, such as iPads. • Digital media such as eTextbooks. • Video conferencing. • Providing professional development to teachers. • Increasing Digital Citizenship.

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