Tuba City Unified School District goes beyond textbooks

Digital technologies are utilized in classrooms

Students utilize iPads during an interactive learning program. Submitted photo

Students utilize iPads during an interactive learning program. Submitted photo

TUBA CITY, Ariz. - Tuba City Unified School District (TCUSD) after a year of planning will begin its three-year digital technology roll-out this year beginning with Tuba City High School, Tuba City Primary School, Dzil Libei Elementary School, and Tsinaabaas Habitiin Elementary School where each of these schools will have their classroom technologies upgraded to an "all-in-one" interactive and integrated Promethean board/projector/speakers and document camera.

Additionally, a classroom set of laptops and tablet computers (iPads) will be purchased per school for the small schools at Gap and Cameron. Currently, only Eagle's Nest Intermediate School and Tuba City Junior High School have their classrooms equipped with the essential iPads and laptops. With enhanced technology, Tuba City Junior High School will also begin its first phase of adopting the International Baccalaureate (IB) school IB Middle Years Program.

In year two, 2013-2014, the District will outfit ENIS and TCJHS with new and upgraded technology hardware and equipment. Additionally, another classroom set of laptops/iPads per grade or per school will be purchased. For year three, 2014-2015, the digital technologies will be completed with a "one-to-one" program with every student K-12 having an iPad/laptop and all classrooms will be technology equipped. The goal with this district-wide infusion of digital technologies in the classrooms is to insure that all district students learn to manage and master high tech as a tool for the new evolving high tech work environment emphasizing teamwork, problem-solving, and critical thinking.

The virtual world technology brings enormous educational resources to the classrooms, which according to NYU Professor Diane Ravitch, one of the world's leading icons in education, "helps students rise to a level of engagement and learning 'far beyond' what a textbook can offer." While there are many who believe that technology will replace teachers, Tuba City District on the other hand believes that it is the teachers who will use digital devices to bring blended learning (online and face-to-face instruction) to a much higher and complex level given irrefutable evidence that it is still that human connection that makes for powerful learning. According to district officials, "teaching today's tech savvy children and youth requires that we take control of our digital age environment lest we fall victim to the digitized new world." Accordingly, teachers have been provided laptops to support the school district in becoming producers of challenging academic content and teaching strategies and simultaneously to personalize teaching and learning in Smaller Learning Communities.

TCUSD has partnered with Stanford University educational resources, Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, Calif., and Vail Unified School District in Vail, Ariz. to begin using advanced sophisticated technology to improve student academic outcomes. In addition to Stanford University EPGY, teachers are now able to log into Vail School District's Beyond Textbooks consortia web site for BT Wiki, Essential Standards, Unwrapped Standards, curriculum calendars, Reteach and Enrich, Common Formative Assessments, Specific Materials, among a multitude of exemplary teaching and learning resources. Teachers are also being provided opportunities to begin using Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment (MOODLE) as a tool to develop and promote online learning worldwide. With TCUSD MOODLE, students both within and outside the district may enroll and take courses offered to District students such as Stanford University Educational Program for Gifted Youth currently offered to District school children and students grades 1-12.

BT has been likened to an iPod where music buffs are able to download their favorite music mixes from CDs and iTunes and upload these favorite selections to their iPod for their listening pleasure and additionally they can share their music selections with others. With BT, exemplary curricular practices from high performing schools are uploaded to the BT web site and member districts can access these exemplary practices for use in their classrooms. For the highest quality professional practices, teachers in the district via BT are able to link and e-communicate with 6,100 other teachers in a professional network of teachers from 52 other Arizona school districts where many have attained an "A+" excelling school status or are rapidly becoming high performing schools.

For students, the digital curriculum allow students to join 65,000 students state-wide in this consortium of high performing schools or schools rapidly attaining excelling schools status as well as connecting with a global network of high achieving students internationally.

Through this creative technology, district students and staff are enabled to join a network of K-12 students and staff from all parts of the world where classrooms are plugged into internationally wired exemplary learning communities. While mileage and distance for exemplary education are now a click away, there are perils with these incredible learning opportunities. District officials state that student safety is always of the utmost priority in optimizing educational opportunities, "To ensure student safety, stringent measures have been put in place to prevent potential abuse of technology for educational use. Tuba City Unified School District chose to invest in the new digitized curriculum as a means to provide students access to the very best technology-based educational opportunities emanating from the highest performing school districts state-wide, nationally, and globally."

Further information on the TCUSD BT digitized curriculum may be obtained by contacting the District Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Office, Marilyn Atcitty at (928) 283-1016 or Harold G. Begay at (928) 283-1006.

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