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Transitioning to a “Living and Breathing Curriculum”


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In DeKalb County School District (DCSD), our first challenge in transitioning to a digital curriculum was size. Our metro Atlanta district is the third largest in Georgia. We have 103,000 students and 6,400 teachers in 136 schools across five district regions, each with its own regional superintendent.

The district as a whole also has a history of autonomy. We added digital resources to our curriculum over time and without a uniform strategy. The different regions adopted multiple learning management systems and individual schools acquired a variety of digital tools for their teachers.

Our story is probably similar to that of many other districts, large and small. It’s about how teachers can become overwhelmed by too many systems and resources that they’re not sure how to use. It’s about the challenges administrators face when they have to track curriculum and instruction district-wide using multiple systems. It’s also about how one integrated curriculum management system can solve a host of challenges. Here’s our story.

As instructional technology program manager for DCSD, my job is to promote awareness of using technology to enhance and support teaching. Five instructional technology specialists work with me to help our teachers integrate technology. We also have an instructional technology liaison who identifies technology for specific curriculum or instructional needs.

As a team, we were present in our schools. Yet we didn’t know precisely how, or if, all teachers were using the digital tools available to them. Bottom line? We lacked a strategic plan for 21st-century learning.

Once we developed that district-wide plan, we gained a clearer understanding of what we needed in a learning management system. We had a variety of assessment tools, but we needed one system to ensure that data from all DCSD classrooms was consistent and accurate. We needed tools for managing, sharing, and making changes to curriculum across the district. We needed professional development tools to assist our teachers in planning instruction for blended learning. With a student population that speaks more than 160 different languages, we needed communication tools, including reliable translation of curriculum materials into multiple languages.

We wanted one solution to meet all of these needs. We found it in itslearning.

That was two years ago. We’ve moved forward in stages, beginning with having all teachers use the itslearning platform for assessments. Currently we have an early adopter group of teachers getting comfortable with blended learning using the itslearning management tools.

itslearning supports what I call a “living and breathing curriculum.” That’s not a bunch of PDFs. It’s having district-level tools to make changes on the fly while locking certain requirements in place. It’s giving teachers the opportunity to curate content within limits. It’s powerful to have one system responding at that granular level. itslearning is a system for 21st-century learning.

Monika Davis is manager of the instructional technology program for the DeKalb County School District in Georgia.

 

For more information about itslearning and what it can do for you and your school system contact us.

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