District 204's technology featured as 'future-ready' in national video
Dist. 204 one of nine in the U.S. lauded for tech use
Indian Prairie Unit District 204 is one of only nine districts across the nation being featured by the U.S. Department of Education for its use of technology to make students "future-ready."
The district on Thursday hosted a film crew from the department's Office of Educational Technology that conducted interviews with leaders and captured footage of students using tech in the classroom.
"These videos will be part of an online tool for district leaders that aren't as far along as Indian Prairie," said Marshal Conley, a former teacher at Indian Plains alternative school in District 204 who oversaw the filming Thursday in his role as a senior consultant with the American Institutes for Research.
Districts being highlighted in the videos were chosen for personalizing learning through technology, having collaborative leadership, offering training for teachers on the best ways to use technology and developing robust technological infrastructures.
"It's really speaking to the work our teachers do every day," Stacey Gonzalez, director of instructional technology, said about the recognition as one of nine "future-ready" districts in the nation. "They are continually looking for ways to personalize instruction for our students, whether it be through technology or innovative ideas."
Superintendent Karen Sullivan said she focuses on collaborative leadership to advance technology because she knows there never will be unlimited funds to buy devices for students in the district, which teaches roughly 28,500 kids and teens from parts of Naperville, Aurora, Bolingbrook and Plainfield. Instead of going it alone, Sullivan said the district works with partners including the John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School at Aurora University, an online learning consortium with Naperville Unit District 203 and Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200, and the nonprofit OnLight Aurora, which provides low-cost bandwidth for the district's use.
While the film crew visited Still Middle School, students in a math class were working in teams of two to complete problems. One student wrote on a white board, teaching how to figure out the correct answer, while another student used a cellphone to capture video of the explanation.
Students in a creative technology class used computers to work on a project to redesign the school's library under a set budget. Two of those students -- seventh-graders Antonio Arambula and Fiona Marks -- got to be interviewed on camera.
"As technology is advancing, we're going to be adding new stuff," Antonio told the film crew.
The videos are expected to go online sometime this summer at tech.ed.gov.
Indian Prairie is the only Illinois district in the project. Others include Coachella Valley Unified School District in California, Howard-Winneshiek Community School District in Iowa, Joplin Schools in Missouri, Kettle Moraine School District in Wisconsin, Palisades School District in Pennsylvania, Pinellas County Schools in Florida, St. Vrain Valley School District in Colorado and Vancouver Public Schools in Washington.