D-158 expands digital curriculum to more schools, subjects

HUNTLEY – The District 158 administration will be putting more tablets in students’ hands after recently revealing plans to expand its digital curriculum program to early elementary and middle school classrooms.

The Huntley school district’s emerging “One-to-One” digital curriculum replaces traditional textbooks and allows students to access online programs and lessons through their own tablet, provided by the district.

Teachers used the tablets for the first time during this school year to teach many third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at Martin Elementary literacy lessons. The success of the program encouraged administrators to follow through with their plan to expand the program to three other schools next year, Chief Academic Officer Mike Moan said.

“We are finding that younger kids are the true digital natives,” Moan said. “They can use the technology more easily, and it’s up to us to make sure we are meeting their needs academically.”

Moan revealed the tablet expansion plan to district board members during a committee meeting Thursday. The expansion would put nearly 2,300 tablets in the hands of students at Conley and Legee elementary schools.

The second phase of the district’s digital curriculum expansion will cost $1.156 million and be paid through money that would otherwise be spent on traditional textbooks and outfitting computer labs.

The administration also decided to include the incoming class of sixth-graders at Marlowe Middle School in its expansion plans. The move allows this year’s fifth-graders at Martin to continue using tablets, Moan said.

Teachers at Conley, Legee, Martin and Marlowe also will use the tablets to teach additional subjects, such as math, science and social studies, Moan said.

The expansion also means the youngest students at District 158 will be using tablets to learn. The tablets will be integrated at a slower pace with Legee’s kindergartners, first- and second-graders – the youngest grade levels to use the “One-to-One” program.

“The community has embraced it,” Moan said. “The students love it. The teachers love it. We are very excited about the year we had at Martin, and we are excited to be expanding it.”

Administrators will look to expand the program to more elementary and middle schools in 2014-15, with an eye toward using it at Huntley High School in 2016, Moan said.

Board members also learned this week that construction crews soon will start excavating and installing drainage along the high school football field.

Crews will start the work in the coming weeks, before installing synthetic football turf and extra stadium seating. The stadium renovation is a part of the district’s ongoing effort to expand the high school to accommodate 3,000 students by 2019.

The high school’s Athletic Boosters Club handed the board an unexpected $40,000 check in donations this week to pay for a new football stadium scoreboard, Board President Don Drzal said.

Board members also will select bids next month to construct a new irrigation system for the school’s soccer and baseball fields, Drzal said.

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