Each school district in Florida has been provided with a digital classroom allocation. In order to receive these dollars, the school district has had to collaboratively develop and submit a plan for how best to use that allocation to improve student and teacher access to digital tools and resources. Prior to the development of this plan, the Gilchrist County School District and Superintendent Rob Rankin already had technology goals. In an effort to increase the use and availability of technology as a teaching and learning tool, the school district purchased classroom sets of iPads for grades K-2, as well as one laptop cart for each elementary school.
Each year, the school district has used the DCP allocation to purchase laptops for students, moving toward a 1:1 goal. Both high schools have met that 1:1 goal. All 9th graders are provided with a laptop each August. These laptops are expected to be the responsibility of the student, and will be in the care of the student throughout high school. The device will be turned in at the end of each school year for general maintenance, and will be re-issued at the beginning of the following school year. Laptops are disseminated to students at Parent Nights planned for August of each year.
Laptop carts are in place in grades 6-8, and both elementary schools achieved a 1:1 student to device ratio for grades 3-5 beginning in 2016-17. This means that every student in grades 3-5 has a laptop for his or her use at school!
Training for teachers has been provided through a $75,000 Professional Development for Digital Learning grant. "It is important not only that technology is available, but also that our teachers are experts in how best to use these types of tools to deliver and differentiate instruction for all types of learners," explains Superintendent Rankin.
These efforts to improve access to digital tools are being strategically integrated and coordinated with efforts to increase technology through other sources as well. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) efforts also support the goals of this project.