Preparing Students for their Future, not our Past

Kyle Siech, Director of Technology & Information Services, Howard-Suamico School District
Kyle Siech, Director of Technology & Information Services, Howard-Suamico School District

Kyle Siech, Director of Technology & Information Services, Howard-Suamico School District

The future is difficult to predict, creating unique challenges for educators as they work to prepare students as critical thinkers, problem solvers, and effective communicators and collaborators.  Nationwide, the field of education continues to look for innovative ways to ensure students have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to work in jobs that may not currently exist.

The Howard-Suamico School District (HSSD) is dedicated to meeting our vision of creating “An authentic, innovative, connected, and inspired experience for an ever-changing future,” by working with our families and community to ensure the students have the knowledge and skills to succeed in a changing world.  Our district is working to develop students who exemplify the profile of an HSSD graduate through the strategy of Innovative Personalized Learning.

The purpose of Innovative Personalized Learning is to open pathways and encourage student voice and choice in their education. Differentiation is a key part of the process and is essential in the education of students as they prepare for their future.  In personalized learning environments, educators seek to meet each student within their own zone of proximal development.

Without this individual attention, a gap exists between the uniqueness of each student, their learning, and the support they need to succeed in a way that makes sense to his/her interests.  Students have expanded learning opportunities made possible through technology, and we need to leverage this opportunity to ensure students have a solid foundation to confidently follow their academic/career pathway.  Life and work have changed exponentially in a way that prevents us from knowing exactly what kind of world we will be sending our graduates.  We must offer a qualitatively different teaching and learning experience to respond to these changes.

  Equipping students to solve tomorrow’s problems with a deep understanding of how to be a “solutionist” can help them confidently pursue and adapt to any career path 

 

Staff members are also being supported through professional development and coaching to equip them with the necessary skills to meet these new demands.

Put simply, the achievement is increased - when the classroom environment and instruction changes to meet the diverse needs of all learners.

In 2013, our district began our Digital Learning Transformation with a core belief that pedagogy needs to transform to ultimately transform the learning process.  HSSD believes digital tools will support individualized, consistent feedback to students as it relates to 21st century learning through a differentiated approach. Technology offers the potential of providing personalized instruction for every student.  All HSSD staff and students have access to quality digital learning tools and information resources necessary to search, evaluate, analyze, manage, manipulate, communicate and construct information and knowledge in the teaching and learning environment.

Our Digital Learning Transformation is more than simply providing a device to students. Rather, it is about changing the classroom experience and learning process for both the teacher and student.  Additionally, it calls for leveraging the impact of universal access to information, allowed by personal mobile technology and its ability to expand learning beyond the brick and mortar walls of the classroom.  To help accomplish this goal, the Howard-Suamico School District aligned its technology plan around the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s vision for digital learning in Wisconsin.  The vision calls for equitable, personalized, applied, and engaged digital learning for all students. 

We are moving from imagination to implementation.  Put simply, today’s students will not solve tomorrow’s problems while operating in yesterday’s schools.

● Imagine a school culture that promotes the ethical use of digital technologies to access, manage, and evaluate information.

● Imagine a classroom where students can instantly create and share ideas using a variety of media.

● Imagine a school that assumes shared responsibility for collaborative work, and values the individual contributions made by each team member.

● Imagine a resource that helps individual students set goals, manage their time, and prioritize assignments.

● Imagine a tool that connects students globally and enables them to communicate and collaborate with individuals representing diverse cultures, customs, and languages.

● Imagine an initiative that promotes personalized learning with real-time feedback and support.

To ensure students are future-ready, the Howard-Suamico School District developed a Graduate Profile which includes universal attributes to meet the demands of the future.  We want to prepare graduates as critical thinkers, collaborators, communicators, adaptable, responsible, self-starters, and finally “solutionists,” which in essence is someone who can develop solutions to complex problems.  Equipping students to solve tomorrow’s problems with a deep understanding of how to be a “solutionist” can help them confidently pursue and adapt to any career path.

Although the future is unpredictable, we can continue to analyze future trends, learn and adapt to changing technologies, and most importantly keep a learner-centered focus to ensure we equip our students to tackle tomorrow’s problems because we changed yesterday’s schools and have built a confident workforce that can step into the problems of tomorrow with a skill set that allows them to meet these challenges. 

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