Classroom Technology Opinion

20 Schools Innovating With Digital Tools

By Tom Vander Ark — August 15, 2012 4 min read
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Co-written by Tom Vander Ark and Sarah Cargill

Hans Renman in Stockholm (@tankom_hans) asked on Twitter, “Do you know any U.S. schools that are REALLY using
digital tools in an INTERESTING way for communication, marketing, or learning?” That tweet kicked off a few days of snooping around. Here is the list of 20
we came up with. We look forward to your additions!

1. Show & Tell. High Tech High does a great job using video to showcase its unique project-based learning
model schoolwide. Ninth graders produce a film festival.

2. Visual math. About 1,400 schools use the visual game-based ST Math featuring JiJi the penguin. For example,
the Orange County math initiative tripled
math proficiency.

3. Student motivation. Innosight’s Heather Staker
says Acton Academy in Austin puts motivation first. Acton turned to programs like Dreambox, Khan Academy, Mangahigh, and ST Math for high engagement.

4. Classroom assessment. As featured in a recent Getting Smart blog, the staff at Leadership Public Schools
in Oakland built Exit Ticket, a classroom assessment and competency tracking system. LPS is the best example of a collaborative and distributed innovation
agenda across a network of schools.

5. Adaptive learning. Public Schools (PS) 49 in Bronx, NY used i-Ready to provide differentiated and personalized instruction in a blended rotation model
to build reading skills. Within just 14 weeks, more than three times as many students using i-Ready were scoring on or above grade level in reading.

6. Flipped school. Greg Green is principal of Clintondale High School in Michigan. They flipped much of their instruction using content on Gooru. Learn more about Clintondale on The Flip Institute blog.

7. Game-based learning. Quest to Learn (Q2L) is a game-based NYC middle school where kids learn through design and complex
problem solving in a learning-by-doing environment. According to Q2L, classes are challenging, immersive, and provide game-like learning experiences for students.

8. Portable learning. Gold medal gymnast Aly Raisman is a Florida Virtual School student and took her learning on the

9. Competency-based learning.Flex model schools, like Silicon Valley Flex, use a digital curriculum to support individual progress. Kunskapsskolan, a Swedish school
network, which was recently described in a Getting Smart blog, uses technology to support individual goal setting. See CompetencyWorks for more on this topic.

10. Project-based learning. The 100-school Edvisions high schools use Project Foundry and a variety of tools to support project-based learning and authentic assessment.

11. Augmented reality. Chris Dede at Harvard University is piloting augmented reality (AR) science field trips with Chappaqua, New York public schools.
Read more about Dr. Dede’s work on Getting Smart. (And,
by the way, we are very enthusiastic about the potential of AR to turn a walk around the block into a powerful social studies, economics, history, as well
as science field trip experience.)

12. Personal Learning Network (PLN). New Milford High School Principal Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal)
learned a lot from his PLN. His network taught him to transform the way he communicates and the way the school interacts with the community. Read Eric’s
great HuffingtonPost summary.

13. Parent engagement. Rocketship Education‘s Facebook page is almost completely run by parents. Each school has a
social media leader who is responsible for posting information, events, photos, and video for their school. (For more, Alision Anderson described 10 family
engagement strategies in this Getting Smart blog.)

14. Rich Multimedia. Rocketship Education fifth graders create a multi-page report and 5-minute presentation about a global challenge on Google Docs word
processor and presentation programs with Chromebooks for laude, cum laude or summa cum laude recognition. With Google Docs, students also collaborate with
peers and advisors across the country in real time on documents and email.

15. Travel. THINK Global School students use the latest equipment to “record, report, and
share their global education online as they travel the world.”

16. Challenge. NYC iSchool blends computer adaptive learning with challenges that require students to work
together to present real solutions to real problems.

17. Art. Ypsilanti New Tech students create 3-D designs on tablets, then turn the works into 2-D photo images, which they can add brush strokes to
make digital art.

18. Citizenship. New Tech Odessa leverages tech in a deep way. The school uses Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
and other mediums to build trust and teach social media responsibility and digital citizenship.

19. PoliSci. Eagle Tech Academy created a New Tech Network-wide project titled #myparty12. This project asks each kid to create their own political
party. Each party will have to defend a policy, create a 30 second campaign video, the top five will debate and eventually the debate will take place
online. They will be using Echo, the New Tech PBL LMS, email, Google email and Google Docs to work collaboratively. Social media will play a large part in
this project. It will be exciting to watch the twitter stream, Facebook pages and YouTube videos.

20. Heart. Mooresville, North Carolina superintendent says, " It’s not about the machine, it’s about heart,” but his students
sure make great use of their MacBooks. The innovation in Mooresville is the system--expectations, culture, curriculum, tools, and support.

Disclosure MIND Research Institute, FLVS and Curriculum Associates are Getting Smart Advocacy Partners.

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The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.