Closing gaps in technology access
To ensure future success, Mason City educators work to expose students to as much classroom technology as possible. “We want to provide those experiences to students so they’ll be experts at using digital tools when they reach college and the work world,” says Dr. Susan Pecinovsky, the district’s executive director of curriculum and instruction.
But Dr. Pecinovsky and her instructional coaching colleagues saw gaps in the district’s technology access—in particular, access to interactive whiteboards. Mason City’s elementary schools had interactive white boards, but in grades 5 to 12, classrooms only had standard whiteboards and projectors.
“In the lower grades, students had access to technology,” Dr. Pecinovsky says. “But then they’d get to high school and they’d have very little. It didn’t make sense for students to live and breathe technology in the lower grades and then have nothing but a projector in 5th grade.”
In the 2018-2019 school year, the district adopted a 1:1 Chromebook program for grades 3 to 12, following several years of Google Workspace use by teachers and staff as well, as Chromebook carts for classrooms. The timing was good for exploring an interactive whiteboard upgrade, says Kassandra Drey, technology integration coach for grades 7-12: Teachers and students were going to use Chromebooks and Google Workspace tools in the classroom and would want to integrate them with interactive whiteboards.
“Principals were asking us how we could take interactive whiteboards to the next level,” Drey says. She and her instructional coaching colleagues also wondered how to encourage student engagement using interactive whiteboards. “An interactive whiteboard on its own is really a teacher’s tool—not a student’s tool,” says Drey.