About William F. Halloran School No. 22
HP Spotlight School William F. Halloran School No. 22 serves elementary and middle school students in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Halloran School No. 22 is dedicated to ensuring that every child achieves excellence. They ensure all students are future ready by implementing rigorous academic activities that promote high levels of critical thinking and problem solving.
William F. Halloran School No. 22 is part of Elizabeth Public Schools, a recognized leader in educational technology and a member of the League of Innovative Schools since 2015. Elizabeth Public Schools is recognized for personalizing instruction through blended learning, putting equity at the center of access to and use of mobile devices to reinforce educational experiences, leveraging web platforms and digital assessments, and creating online platforms for communication. Elizabeth Public Schools launched their one-to-one computing initiative in 2014, and now all students in grades 2 through 12 have an HP 11G2 touch laptop and access to the Microsoft 365 suite.
Powerful Learning at William F. Halloran School No. 22
William F. Halloran School No. 22 was selected as an HP Spotlight School for its powerful use of technology for teaching and learning. Both students and teachers at Halloran School No. 22 engage in Powerful Learning through experiences that are personal and accessible, authentic and challenging, collaborative and connected, and inquisitive and reflective.
“...We must prepare them for 10-20 years from now when they are in the global, competitive market. That cannot happen if leaders do not empower teachers to take chances in the classroom, to make learning fun, to think outside the box. Because it is these experiences that will make a lasting impression on our students.” – Chihui Alfaro, Principal
Creating authentic learning experiences with technology
In Patti Swick’s third grade class, students learned about astronomy by connecting with a doctoral fellow from Harvard University on Skype. After reading about about stars, constellations, and outer space, students developed higher-order thinking questions to ask the doctoral fellow. Students used these questions to drive the conversation during the exchange. By providing this opportunity to connect to an expert and lead their own learning through inquiry, Ms. Swick says students had an authentic learning experience “that they didn’t always have the chance to have just by reading a book.”
In another class, students learned about plant germination and local wildlife to explore why some of the local crops were eaten. As part of this exploration, students used a virtual plant dissection tool to understand the parts of a plant and their functions prior to planting a garden in their school yard. This opportunity allowed students to make connections between natural phenomena in their local environment as they gained a better understanding of botany.
In a unit on slavery in the United States, students engaged with the history in ways that aligned to their abilities and interests. One student composed an original piece of music that expressed the emotional journey of a slave escaping north in pursuit of freedom.
Another group of students reconstructed the lives of slaves and slaveholders by creating a virtual plantation in Minecraft.
“Some people get bored just reading books and looking at textbooks, and some people like me are more used to typing because our generation is used to the internet, and some people are visual learners. So if there is a video or something, they could watch that without getting bored and without their teacher having a hard time trying to teach them the material.” – Haley, student
Watch the playlist below to take a 360˚ look at powerful learning in action in four classrooms at William F. Halloran School No 22:
The Learning Studio: A Hub for Powerful Learning
To create more space for powerful learning, William F. Halloran School No. 22 is reimagining their library to include a Learning Studio, a space outfitted with cutting-edge technology for student-centered making and design.
The Learning Studio invites learners to define the problems they want to solve and design solutions to address them. Practicing skills such as design thinking and computational thinking, students invent, build, and share creations that address needs in their community. Located in a high-traffic area in the school building, the new Learning Studio will serve as Halloran School No. 22’s Powerful Learning hub.
When approaching the design of the Learning Studio, Halloran School No. 22’s robust arts education offerings factored heavily into the selection of equipment for the space. The new Learning Studio will include a dedicated audio-visual studio, a popular request from students and teachers. The Learning Studio will also include tools and spaces for digital and physical fabrication, Mixed Reality, robotics, and physical computing.
Stay tuned for a 360° video tour of the completed Learning Studio.