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March 18, 2013

Pentucket launches new technology plan

WEST NEWBURY — A new technology integration program aims to significantly improve teaching and learning in the Pentucket Regional School District.

Assistant Superintendent Bill Hart, who took the lead in implementing the plan, describes the effort as “super-charging the district vision for powerful learning in the 21st century.” Increasingly, students are expressing their learning through technology and everyone — students, teachers and administrators — are already seeing tangible results, Hart said.

Last September, Pentucket launched the new program designed to considerably boost the use of technology across the district. Some 35 teachers participated in ongoing and embedded professional development to become qualified as powerful learning technology specialists.

Over the summer, they took workshops to increase their instructional technology proficiency. The group also regularly meets each month after school for additional professional development. Then, using the already-established district-wide team structure, these teachers are in turn training their colleagues in the use of technology in the classroom.

“This professionally collaborative approach has exponentially increased the effective use of technology in PRSD classrooms,” Hart said.

Leading up to the launch last fall, Hart had worked closely with district principals and teachers for the past several years to integrate a new teaching and assessment approach, known as the Habits of Learning and Powerful Learning, that emphasizes the importance of making sure students develop 21st century skill sets such as collaboration, independent thinking, communication and creativity.

Hart sees technology as a natural partner in this type of teaching and learning process, the more the PLTS teachers’ expertise in cutting edge technology grows, they are more likely to encouraged their students to “organize their thinking with Think-o-meter, communicate more effectively with Prezi, collaborate with Virtual Lab Partner, become more independent with Evernote and express their creativity with SAM Animation,” he said.

When recently asked to describe their experience with the new technology integration program, the teachers used words like “enlightening”, “rigorous”, “inspiring” and “relevant,” Hart said. He feels the feedback he is getting from teachers and students “clearly indicates” that the district approach to this type of rich technology integration is working, he said.

“Great things happen when PRSD teachers set their minds to improve teaching and learning for students,” Hart said. “Their wonderful work with instructional technology is yet another example of how lucky our school community is to have such talented professionals working with their kids.”

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