In one classroom, kindergarten students may be creating a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation while students in another elementary class use Sway software for digital storytelling.
Down the hall, a teacher may be reviewing data collected during a classroom assessment to determine how best to tailor instruction for each student. Later that day, the same teacher may encourage students to use apps like Flipgrid or Popplet to demonstrate what they have learned.
Cobb classrooms continue to transform into digital classrooms that are preparing today’s students for success in a global and ever-changing society. The transformation is led by the Cobb Schools Technology Services Instructional Technology team.
The 28-member team of technology training and integration specialists spend their days inside schools and inside classrooms working directly with teachers on how to incorporate digital tools into their lesson plans. They demonstrate how technology enhances student learning and readies them for tomorrow’s jobs.
Beyond one-on-one training, the Instructional Technology team provides collaborative opportunities for the teachers to brush up on the digital tools and skills that they can pass on to their students. From monthly Twitter chat sessions and frequent blog posts to the monthly InTech newsletter, the Cobb InTech team keeps teachers and leaders updated on the latest news and ideas related to digital classrooms.
They also host an immersive tech conference over the summer for hundreds of Cobb educators.
Cobb teachers are not the only ones who turn to the District’s Instructional Technology team for help. Cobb has become a model for best practices. The training resources provided on the Cobb InTech page are used by educators around the world.
No other school district in Georgia has a front-facing website with resources, like those available via the Cobb InTech page. That’s why thank you’s from around the state and nation roll in. The information Cristin Kennedy and her team offer are impacting students beyond Cobb.
“We want to have a very strong learning network, not just with Cobb teachers and Cobb leaders,” the Director of Instructional Technology explained. “We are supposed to be living in a global world where we can collaborate with anyone, anywhere.”
As evidence of the global impact of the Cobb InTech team, Kennedy was recently named one of the top 10 Innovative School District Tech Directors by Education Technology Insights.
“I think we won the award because nationally we are recognized for the big shifts and changes that we are doing in Cobb Schools. There are a lot of districts in Georgia and nationally that are watching what we do and reach out to learn how we are making such a great impact on students,” added the award-winning School District Tech Director.
One area where school leaders in Georgia and beyond are watching is the District’s Cobb Teaching and Learning System. The revolutionary platform allows teachers to see exactly what a student knows and shows them how to tailor instruction to strengthen skills in the areas where the data shows the student needs help. With the individualized learned approach, Cobb Schools continue to see their scores on state and national assessments rise.
Kennedy and her team of tech-savvy educators spend time with teachers around the District ensuring that they understand how to use the District-created CTLS platform. Her team is available to walk teachers through how to assess students and use the resources to help each student achieve their next level of success.
They were responsible for the initial training of CTLS and are now working on training Cobb educators on the updates to the CTLS Assess section of the platform. They even have a blog for that, too.
“My team has been very busy with really educating the staff members and leaders about this great enhancement to the CTLS Assess program,” Kennedy said.
In addition to the large CTLS training initiative, the Instructional Technology team is also leading the metro area in preparing Cobb staff to earn their Microsoft Innovator Educator certification. More than 3,300 Cobb teachers and leaders have the Microsoft certification thanks to Kennedy and her team’s work.
The Cobb InTech team breaks down each Microsoft tool and shows educators how to use the different tools in the classroom. Some teachers are hesitant, but the InTech team works beside them in their classrooms to show the teachers how it is possible for even young students to master the digital tools.
Before earning the certification, the teachers must demonstrate that they know how to use the Microsoft tools in the classroom, which means their students also must complete a task using the same digital tools.
“We really need to get [students] to be very comfortable with these tools because we want them to be future-ready,” Kennedy added.
All Cobb students have access to Microsoft Office 365, at no cost, whether they are at school or at home. The information parents and students need to get started is available, again, on a Cobb InTech resource page.
Part of the InTech’s team training of Cobb educators revolves around promoting and teaching digital citizenship, so the teachers can guide students on proper usage. That means that teachers will be able to help students understand how to stay safe in the digital world
There is a reason that the Cobb InTech team has had such success at moving classrooms into the digital age. They have concentrated on educating Cobb school leaders on why preparing students for the technology skillsets of the future are crucial to preparing them for success.
“Our heart is the integration of technology in the classroom,” Kennedy said. “When students graduate, they need to know how they are going to communicate their skills, how they are going to market their skills, and how they are going to collaborate with others.”