The Albertville City School District has seen the positive effects of using technology to enhance student learning. District and school leadership made a commitment to providing Chromebooks in all English language arts classes (ELA) in grades 3-12 this school year, as well as in social studies/history classes in combination with iPads already in use. In all, over 1600 Chromebooks have been added in the last 15 months in the school system with a K-12 population of around 5100 students. This commitment is a part of a digital learning initiative that has been enhanced by teams of educators attending the 2015 ISTE Conference and the 2014 and 2015 BLC (Building Learning Communities) Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. Team members took away from the conferences a plethora of digital resources and ideas, as well as a desire to promote digital classrooms throughout the system. One key piece for professional growth has been encouraging teachers to pursue Google Certification.
As a result, district leadership decided that the system’s local indicator this year should include increasing the use of digital tools, specifically through Google Apps for Education (GAFE). District and school leaders understood the need for professional development for the teachers for them to fully grasp all the applications, learning opportunities, differentiation strategies, grading options, and management tools available through GAFE, so beginning with this year’s first faculty meetings, the administration made a strong push for faculty to become Google Certified. This certification is wonderful way for teachers to learn all the GAFE. The 3-hour exam requires not only the ability to answer real-world classroom scenarios, but also to perform tasks associated with each of the applications -Classroom, Slides, Sheets, Forms, Hangouts, Calendar, You Tube, Docs, and Drive.
At the school-level, digital leaders are offering after-school professional development on each of the applications. These teacher-leaders, who had received their certification earlier in the year, conduct these trainings and offer additional one-on-one training to other teachers as needed. Currently, the school district has over 20 educators who have received their Google Certification, and many more are in the process!