The 4-1-1 on District 219

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This year’s Charp Award winner is honored at NECC for its unique and compelling use of technology,particularly in support of teachers.

Geoffrey H. Fletcher THE 2006 SYLVIA CHARP AWARD for District Innovation in Technology, cosponsored by T.H.E. Journal and the International Society for Technology in Education, was presented to Illinois’ Niles Township High Schools District 219 last month at the 2006 National Educational Computing Conference in San Diego. Like the two prior winners of the Charp Award— Irving Independent School District (TX) and Kiel Area School District (WI)— District 219 is doing exciting things with technology, especially in support of teachers. Irving and Kiel have strong, targeted professional development programs. District 219’sapproach is a little different.

District 219 has a Professional Development Center in each of its buildings, offering just-in-time training and workshops for teachers and staff, and customized help whenever it is needed. Each PDC has a technology training manager who provides technology integration support, and a full-time trainer who develops materials and gives training and guidance toany teacher who asks for it.

PDCs include two multimedia labs for students and teachers, staffed by a full-time visual literacy coordinator, a full-time video technician, and a lab supervisor. There is more than training going on; the centers provide ongoing support so teachers and students can use technology to gain knowledge and then communicate itin a plethora of ways.

District 219 also offers online training, including tutorials produced in-house and materials from application developers, and provides free internet access to Atomic Learning for teachers,students, and their families.

The district’s software licenses enable teachers to use standard and multimedia applications at work or home. In-house streaming video is provided as well, so teachers have ondemand access to educational videos and online teachers’ guides from Cable in the Classroom. District 219 supports teachers and students in creating instructional materials, reviewing for tests, and otherwise improving teaching and learning bothat school and at home.

Like other districts, 219 encourages teachers to write grants to request new equipment. But unlike many districts, 219 requires its teachers to tie their proposals to school improvement and curricular goals as well as to describe their plans for integrating the new technology into their courses. Equipment purchased through this program accounts for almost one-third of the district’s capital budget for technology. The district’s unique approach fosters innovation from teachers that, in turn, gets passed among all the teachersin a given building.

As Superintendent Neil Codell said in his letter of support for the application,“We know that we cannotdeliver the first-class education ourstudents deserve, and their communityexpects, without every possibleadvantage new technology can provide....We have also deployed technologythroughout the district, to helpall of us—students, teachers, administrators,and parents—be as effi-cient and effective as possible inpursuit of our common educationalmission.”

—Geoffrey H. Fletcher, Editor-At-Large

Correction: In our June Networking column, we incorrectly defined WLAN. WLAN stands for wireless local area network. We regret the error.

This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2006 issue of THE Journal.

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