How Verizon Innovative Learning Schools Transformed My District – Digital Promise

How Verizon Innovative Learning Schools Transformed My District

March 7, 2024 | By

New Brunswick Public Schools has continued to transform the educational landscape, empowering students and staff to reach new heights of innovation and achievement. As a district, we create and support an environment that embraces technology in education, empowering students to become lifelong learners, critical thinkers, and active contributors to an increasingly digital society. With our Verizon Innovative Learning Schools partnership, we have been able to provide new Chromebook devices with built-in connectivity, equip students with cutting-edge technology through the Verizon Innovative Learning Labs, and support staff with technology-based instructional coaches. As a district, we utilized technology effectively in the classroom to enhance learning and move away from seeing it as just a tool. However, by participating in Verizon Innovative Learning Schools we have seen an improvement in our practice of how we use technology by focusing on enhancing student-centered approaches with an emphasis on collaboration.

This shift started with the rollout of new Chromebook devices featuring built-in LTE, so students have internet access outside of school without needing at-home WiFi services or district-issued hotspots. Equipping each student with a device opened up a world of possibilities, enabling personalized learning experiences, at-home virtual tutoring, and access to digital tools and resources. Students now actively participate in how they learn, engaging with interactive educational apps, collaborating on projects, and accessing assignments anywhere they go. With readily available technology, students in our three Verizon Innovative Learning Schools may choose which applications and digital platforms they would like to use to express themselves and showcase their understanding of the content. Students utilize video editing software, animation tools, CAD software, or coding platforms to create multimedia projects that foster their unique learning styles. In addition, by leveraging technology to provide timely feedback and differentiate instruction, teachers have witnessed a shift in their instructional practices.

Verizon Innovative Learning Schools also equips staff with LTE-enabled devices, which allows them to communicate with their students through various platforms to provide on-the-spot feedback, assignments, and instructional support. Assignments can be easily made more interactive and engaging without fear of losing a WiFi connection throughout the day. For instance, teachers can record videos before a lesson and post them as a refresher to support students with homework. They can also create virtual escape rooms or create a digital library of videos and ebooks on specific topics.

Teachers have harnessed the power of technology to create personalized learning environments that meet students’ unique needs and assess their progress. For example, we successfully introduced ST Math, a game-based visual instructional program, in our Verizon Innovative Learning Schools, and it is now being utilized district-wide to support students with their understanding of math concepts. ST Math adapts to the student’s pace and creates a customized path that supports their specific needs. This program provides students with an interactive, game-filled environment that is conducive to engaging learners and encourages active participation.

Equipping each student with a device opened up a world of possibilities... Students now actively participate in how they learn

As part of the Verizon Innovation Learning Schools program, our district hired two full-time coaches to support instructional technology at the three schools. These coaches aim to close the gap between educators and technology by supporting them with a deeper understanding of how to enhance, communicate, collaborate, and empower students digitally. Coaches work hand-in-hand with staff to support individual goals and challenges, and to ensure technology is effectively integrated into the curriculum. They provide professional development to our teachers that focuses on the latest trends, digital literacy skills, and ways to improve engagement. Through their guidance and expertise, coaches support educators in navigating and solving challenges, without the stigma of being unable to take risks and try new things.

Currently, our coaches have been supporting cross-curricular instruction using transformative technology like virtual reality (VR) to enhance particular lessons. For example, students who are reading “House on Mango Street” used VR to visit Chicago, where the book takes place, and walk the streets as the main character, Esperanza, did in the novel. Students also virtually visited different community gardens around the world after reading “Seedfolks.” In science class, students visited different underwater habitats and interacted with the ocean animals using VR. Coaches play a vital role in supporting the teacher by not just using technology as a tool to enhance the lesson but by providing experiences that can help students make a deeper connection to what they are learning.

Students in our Verizon Innovative Learning Schools serve on student tech teams to support their peers with the utilization of Chromebooks and other applications. Student tech teams provide daily support by troubleshooting and problem-solving classroom technology issues. They also contribute to our professional development by creating newsletters and how-to videos that help the learning community grow, while also attending parent events to provide instruction on using technology effectively. Participating on the tech team enables students to build their confidence around the use of technology from a hardware and software perspective. They learn dependability while gaining real-world skills that can lead to potential internships within even our district technology department.

One of our newest initiatives is our new Verizon Innovative Learning Labs, which provide students with a space brimming with state-of-the-art equipment, like 3D printers, robotics, virtual reality headsets, and more. Flexible seating options, lighting, interactive displays, and colorful design choices present a friendly environment that fosters and inspires creativity. Students engage in project-based learning, which encourages critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration.

Overall, the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program has supported our district by helping foster continuous growth and learning in the realm of technology. Looking at the increase in access to devices, connectivity, coaches, resources, and more, we as a district have been increasingly able to embrace innovation while prioritizing digital equity. We thank our external partners who came together to develop a program that supports schools as they adapt to new technologies. Through their continued support, we look forward to empowering our students as they grow into lifelong learners and develop the new skills required to manage the challenges of the digital age.

Learn how to bring Verizon Innovative Learning Schools to your district.


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