The Rush-Henrietta capstone projects then began in the 2017-18 school year with third graders and showed that 79 percent of students rated proficient on skills necessary for meeting the ISTE standards. These include citing sources, communicating clearly and concisely, providing details about the main idea of a text, organizing information, evaluating sources, and leveraging digital tools. The results were used by library specialists and technology coaches to work with teachers on how to reinforce and improve key skills among students. “The capstones are designed to be rigorous assessments of information and technology skills that cannot be taught and mastered in one year,” says Malone.
Moving forward, a significant portion of Rush-Henrietta’s technology vision is to make the previous efforts more viable and self-sustaining. Rush-Henrietta plans to also add additional focus on instructional shifts for all teachers to maximize the potential of the devices in their classrooms. As Malone shares, “Given the demographics of the district, we also plan to focus on ways in which equity for all students, specifically English Language Learners, can be promoted.”
However, using technology as a tool for academic success is just one way in which technology is valuable to students. While Malone is clear that emerging technologies must be used to facilitate how teachers and students interact and engage with the content and the world around them, he describes the benefits of technology education as reaching far beyond the classroom. “To reach today’s learners, teachers must move beyond traditional teaching methods and shift to more authentic, real-world experiences, ensuring students are producers instead of consumers of knowledge,” Malone explains. “In-depth technology integration includes creativity, innovation, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving.” Technology also helps students become more thorough, collaborative and global learners. Says Malone, “Students are able to find information on demand regardless of the topic. They can collaborate with peers and experts all over the world as well as create work intended to be viewed and reviewed by others instead of for their and their teachers’ eyes only.”
While these technological benefits seem ideal, the question is, of course, Is it working? According to Brad Malone, the answer is yes. “If you were to walk into a classroom at Rush-Henrietta, you may see students researching a topic of their choice using databases. In another classroom you might see students collaborating on a science experiment by sharing lab data in realtime. Other places, you may see students determining which form of media to use to present their learning based on their message and audience. In third, sixth, and ninth grade you would see our students completing their ISTE Capstone Projects which assess an expansive array of digital age skills.” Malone goes on to explain that, looking toward the future, Rush-Henrietta would like to expand the current uses of technology into every classroom. Its faculty are also excited to be designing their Senior High ISTE Capstone Project which would be a truly culminating experience for their students over the course of their entire education at Rush-Henrietta.