1-to-1 in Edgecombe

How did a low-wealth, rural school district in Eastern North Carolina transform their high schools from  "old school" ways to new 21st Century Schools? 

A team from Edgecombe County Public Schools answered that question at the North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA) Conference. 

Their topic was the high school 1:1 Laptop Program. A compelling presentation inspired school leaders from across the state to consider laptops as a way to increase student motivation and engagement, improve learning, and prepare students for our 21st century world. A video was shown with teachers and students discussing the value of having the laptops. The video can be seen on Teacher Tube and YouTube.

Laptop programs are a complicated venture, with a whole host of logistical issues to plan for and resolve (Livingston, 2009). Barbara Hardison, Director of Federal Programs shared important things to consider when beginning a 1:1 Initiative:

·        Keep everyone focused on improving student achievement
·        Organize a district tech team
·        Visit a 1:1 school
·        Plan with ample lead time for purchases
·        Provide teachers with laptops prior to students
·        Provide PD prior to and after deployment
·        Secure highly qualified tech facilitators and technicians
·        Require parent/guardian participation
·        Partner with organizations that share your vision

Dr. Lisa Cooke, Principal of Tarboro High School presented data showing improvements in AYP, PBS discipline data, drop out rate, and attendance. She stated, "The laptops are one very important component to our success." Since the implementation of the laptops, Tarboro High School has seen:

·        EOC Scores Increase
·        Drop-out Rate Decrease
·        Attendance Rate Increase
·        Discipline Decrease - PBS Green Designation
·        AYP Goals Met
·        Distinctions Won for Laptop Use

Technology Facilitators, Cara Patterson and Radhika Prout mind-mapped their roles with a Mindomo,
a web-based mind mapping software allowing teachers and students to create visual maps of brainstorming and save those brainstorms online. Their awesome presentation included examples of projects done at their schools such as: Twitter in the classroom, Voicethread, WebQuests, and Wikis. 

Next,  Joy Robinson shared her classroom website which completely eliminates the need for paper in her classroom.  She uses an InterWrite Pad to annotate over documents, saves them and then sends them to students.  The highlight of the day came when she shared a music video that several of her Advanced Algebra students created using MovieMaker to their own rap lyrics.   

Finally, Jenifer Marquis, discussed her role as a K-12 Instructional Technology Specialist. She is working to build a 21st Century School District.  One way she accomplishes that is by building a Personal Learning Network through ISTE Membership, NCTIES membership, Twitter, Blogging, Social Bookmarking and Google Reader.  She stated, "Even though we live in a rural area, I am connected to experts from all across the nation with the use of  Web 2.0 networking tools".  In turn, she shares with others across the school district through her Blog, Wiki, Email, and Twitter account.  She also supports K-12 leadership and teachers by hosting Web 2.0 Workshops, presenting at leadership meetings, and meeting with the Technology Facilitators once a month.  Soon she will be offering professional development online through the new Edgecombe Moodle site.

The presentation ended with many questions from interested administrators.  One thing was clear at the end of the day, Edgecombe County Public Schools' 1:1 Laptop Program is truly making a difference.