Fairbury Public Schools [FPS] is well on its way to opening new doors to educational opportunities with programs like one-to-one and other technology upgrades that have hit the district in the past year.
At Monday’s school board meeting, Karen Dux, Technology Integrationist at FPS, explained that the one-to-one program has helped both students and staff to develop skills.
“It has been an amazing first year of our one-to-one,” said Dux. “It hasn’t even been a full year yet. We are presenting at a tech conference next spring as an exemplary school in sharing our one-to-one process with other districts. So, I think that’s something to be pretty proud of. We’re thinking of the past, the present and the future of technology at Fairbury Public Schools.”
Dux presented the results from a series of surveys taken before one-to-one began and at the end of the spring semester. The surveys revealed that there was a 40 point increase in technological skills across the board since the program started, which Dux noted is rather unprecedented.
She believes that these are great results from the first year of the program, but that there is still work to be done to help both students and faculty benefit from technology.
“For the most part, they’ve really embraced it, and they are doing an excellent job,” Dux said. “Our area that we need to continue to work on is integration in the classroom as far as higher level skills. We’re working on that quite a bit with professional development. The way you learn best is through modeling, and the administration has really taken that on.”
Dux explained that another key to making this work for the students is digital citizenship training in order to teach students what to do and what not to do online and on social media. Starting Wednesday, the school is having a digital citizenship week to promote online safety.
RJ Suey, senior at Fairbury High School, attended a conference with a handful of other teachers and students to address safe social media and online practices, as well as the benefits of having these capabilities available. He explained that one of the presentations by Waverly High School Student Hunter Radenslaben at this conference inspired him to use social media to make the world a better place.
“Everyone always says how immature kids are on social media and how we misuse it for so many things and that we shouldn’t have it,” said Suey. “Going on the internet isn’t a waste of time all the time. He made the point that we all have the tools to go out and touch the world. It’s never been easier to help those in need; one post can change someone’s life forever.”
High school students Michaela Buchli and Althea Esteller also offered insight on how having Canvas, a learning management system that organizes notes, assignments and more, has greatly benefited them. Buchli explained that it helps with organization and helps to provide 24/7 access to all of the materials she needs for classes.
Esteller explained that without the one-to-one program, she would not have been able to take as many dual-credit courses. She stated that with the help of this program, she will graduate with roughly 21 credit hours as she prepares for college.
Even students at Jefferson are seeing the benefits of updated technology in the school district as it helps them with their studies. Students Blake Starr and Ellie Tucker explained to the board that they are able to take a hands-on approach to learning with a program called Nearpod.
They showed how they are able to take virtual reality field trips to anywhere in the world to see how what they are learning about applies to real life. Dux explained that the school is even working to acquire virtual reality headsets to make the experiences even more realistic.
Students are not the only people who benefit from the advancing technology at Fairbury Public Schools; faculty members are seeing the results as well.
Abby Jones, who teaches English at Fairbury High School, explained that Canvas has revolutionized the way she is able to teach.
“It’s not papers that they have to keep track of or papers I have to keep track of,” said Jones. “It’s always there. I feel like with Canvas I can do a lot more things than I could without one-to-one or without a learning management system. I can bring in a lot of material from the internet for them to look at. I try to pick up new things along the way as much as possible. The feedback has been pretty positive.”
Superintendent Stephen Grizzle explained that having one-to-one and the other technology available has helped teachers to gauge how effective their teaching of certain materials is. Dux is grateful that the district is continuing to focus on technology and how useful it can be in the classroom.
“This was an exciting snapshot of just some of the things that teachers are doing in the classroom,” Dux said. “I’m pretty proud of our students and our staff and their use of technology. We have a way to go, but we haven’t even had one-to-one a whole year yet. It’s pretty amazing what they’re doing.”