Tech in K-4: Is it Necessary? Is it Best?

A question we’ve been asked by parents of younger students with regard to technology integration goes something like this:

“Little ones need to read real books and write with real pencils on real paper. Our kids have plenty of technology at home. Why do they need technology at school?”

This is a fair question that deserves a thoughtful answer. In our next several posts, HSE21 Shorts will address the big idea of technology integration in grades K-4. We’ll consider our students, our world, and what research tells us about best practice instruction.PR.002We begin with experiences close to home. Twenty-three HSE K-4 teachers have spent the past semester piloting 1:1 iPads in their classrooms. Throughout this pilot, we’ve collected glimpses of classroom learning . Visit the HSE21 Media Vimeo channel. As you watch the short clips from this fall, attempt to pinpoint the reason technology was used in each learning experience. What was the point?


Elementary Design: The Inquirers

In our last post, we met the 2015-16 Elementary Design Team — 23 teacher leaders who together are paving the way to discover best practices for technology integration in the primary grades. Click here to read this short introduction, if you missed it last week!

For this week, here’s another quick look at this important Team, 23 teacher-explorers on a quest of discovery!


Collaboration Stations Foster Teamwork

IMG_0503Twenty-first century careers require the ability to work with others to innovate and problem-solve. Fall Creek Junior High students in Mrs. Hiatt’s English class gained collaboration experience this week, as they worked in teams to research  types of sonnets and create presentations to share with the larger class.

Teamwork, always an important part of instruction, has a new twist this year, though, with the addition of collaboration stations in the school’s Media Center. Each 50-inch screen monitor is synched with an Apple TV – giving students the ability to project one’s iPad screen in view of the entire group. Add PowerPoint Online to the mix, and students can work together to create a presentation in real time, with the most current version of the presentation on the ‘big screen’.

IMG_0506FCJH media specialist Mrs. Distler says, “We are very excited to have these stations for our students to use in conjunction with our 1:1 initiative.  It creates a great opportunity for students to work collaboratively while using their iPad as a tool to enhance their learning.”

Seeing Is Believing…in a whole new way!

SometiIMG_0574mes seeing is believing. For classroom teachers, seeing other teachers in action (what we call ‘shadow visiting’) isn’t as much about ‘belief’ as it is about sharing curriculum and methodology across grade levels. It’s also about noting successful innovation–which is exactly what happened when fourth grade teachers from HPE*, HRE* and SCE* recently spent half a day visiting Sand Creek Intermediate, the building that many of their current fourth graders will attend next year.

IMG_0539Last week’s fourth-to-fifth grade shadow visits (still more visits are slated to occur this year!) were prompted by a very specific curricular innovation: blended learning with technology. iPads have been incorporated as a tool for learning for each 5th and 6th grade student this year; seeing this blended learning in action has giveIMG_0530n the elementary teachers a clearer picture of what blended learning looks and sounds like. The fourth grade teachers were even able to learn from their former students (this year’s 5th graders) — teacher and student iPad pairs quickly sprang up as the fifth graders pulled aside their former teachers to tutor them on iPad basics!

*Harrison Parkway Elementary, Hoosier Road Elementary, & Sand Creek Elementary



HSE21, Historically Speaking

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been over three years since HSE21 first got off the ground. It was the fall of 2011 when a small group of HSE educators and administrators met to research new possibilities for teaching and learning–possibilities in which classrooms would no longer be bound by four walls and static textbooks. Digital technologies and the World Wide Web were leading to major instructional shifts around the nation. Clearly, the world was moving from print to digital, from local to global, and from an industrial economy to a knowledge economy.


The original HSE21 Pilot Team in 2012.

Fast forward a year, and a pilot team composed of dynamic HSE teachers was selected to roll out classroom innovations. These twenty educators represented each school level (K-4, 5-6, 7-8, and  9-12) and a variety of subject areas. Their charge was two-fold. First, these teachers were to begin to shift their instruction from the traditional (teacher-centered, lecture-reading-homework-test model of instruction) to a 21st century best practice learning model (student-centered, inquiry-driven and problem-based). Second, they were to incorporate digital tools for learning into their daily classroom practice. Each teacher received a cart of thirty iPads with instructions to use this technology to deepen and extend learning.


The HSE21 Pilot Team reconvened recently to reconnect and share experiences. It was a time to reflect and to look forward.

Over two more years have passed. Our pilot teachers are in their third year of teaching forward–that is, preparing our students for the world they will soon inherit. Many other faculty have joined suit. This year, our fifth and sixth graders use iPads every day. Our 7th through 12th graders will add digital devices for learning next year as well. The most important thing to remember is that these devices are not an end in themselves. They are learning tools that provide for up-to-date information access, teacher-student collaboration, communication, global connections and creativity. Taking advantage of our 21st century advantages. The pilot team led the way. They have much of which to be proud.

Day 40 – Educators & Law Enforcement: Partnering to Serve Kids

One of the most obvious win-win community partnerships for a public school district can be its collaboration with local law enforcement. The Fishers Police Department (FPD) and Hamilton Southeastern Schools have a well-established and vibrant partnership that serves our students on many fronts. From our School Resource Officers (SROs) to the DARE program, from Text-a-Tip to trainings/simulations with teachers and students, HSE Schools and the FPD work closely to promote the safety and well being of all.

IMG_2398Wednesday night’s HSE21 Parent Meeting was a wonderful case in point! iPad Safety & Restrictions was designed for parents of students in grades five and six—students who now have iPads as learning tools for use at school and home! HSE and FPD leaders spoke with parents in attendance about social media, iPad safety, and more, looking at these topics from social, educational, and developmental vantage points.

As our global society continues to connect digitally, HSE Schools & the FPD will work together to keep families aware the best resources for learning, communicating, and collaborating, as well as those that may pose threats to the safety of children. If you missed last night’s meeting, but are interested in the content–the presentation screencast is available here:

Thanks to Lieutenant Mike Johnson (pictured), Sergeant Matt Simmonds, and HSE Educational Technologies Director Jeff Harrison for their expertise and time in presenting this material. 

Day 37 – Learning to Summarize…Using Tweets (#140charactersmax)

Eighth grade English teacher Stephanie Dalton illustrates how creativity in lesson planning (along with some insight into what motivates young teens) can lead to deeper understanding and interaction with text. 

dalton2Last night, my students read chapter two of The Hound of the Baskervilles.  This early 20th century text presents a challenge for my students–especially in the beginning.  The core of the piece is the dreaded curse cast upon the Baskerville Estate which is presented in chapter two–last night’s homework assignment.

In class today, it was important to revisit the curse in order to deepen our understanding of this core text element. So, we tweeted about it. I asked each student to create an imaginary Twitter handle to identify themselves, and to write a 140-character tweet about the first event of the curse. Then we passed our iPads to our neighbors and had them continue the fake Twitter feed. dalton1During this time, student were welcome to skim their text so their tweets were accurate with the text itself. After six passes, we had a great summary of the curse as well as some laughter about our chosen hashtags. The best part of this lesson was students’ deep and critical thinking. The summary is easy; making hilarious hashtags was the challenge!

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have been proud.

Submitted by Stephanie Dalton, Riverside Junior High, English