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Palmisano: Technology transforms District 45 classrooms

Published: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT
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Anthony J. Palmisano is the superintendent for School District 45, DuPage County.

So, what are kids up to these days in School District 45? One hundred fifty seven years have passed since the first school house opened on Meyers Road in 1857. Now there are eight schools serving just over 3,300 students.  And, like many school districts across the country, much has changed since the 19th century.  

Even for many of us who remember chalkboards, film strips, micro-fiche, card catalogues, record players, and "dittos" hot off the machine (Oh, to have one last sniff), it is hard to understand these are now things of the past. But, if you've been in the classroom lately, you might be amazed – perhaps even intrigued. Classrooms are exciting places to be in School District 45, and as superintendent, I get to visit them every day.  Let's take a quick peek:

Teachers in the classrooms across District 45 have hosted an Hour of Code in support of Computer Science Education. "You are going to learn to tell the computer what to do," said District 45 instructional coach Matt Granger, who has been facilitating each Hour of Code.

According to Granger, having students participate in an Hour of Code is part of a worldwide effort that introduced the skill of computer programming to more than 10 million students. Lessons typically begin with students pairing up and then choosing their technology from among the iPad, Chromebook or the classroom computer.  Then the students set out to write a computer program code. This is one of the creative ways in which our students learn the problem-solving and thinking skills necessary for tomorrow.

You might ask, what about the basics – reading, writing, history, and arithmetic?  They’re still being taught, yes, but in different ways than we once knew. It is much more interactive than ever before.  Students can take virtual tours to ancient Rome on the SMARTboard or research original documents from history on the iPad.  When students write, the teacher can immediately edit and make suggestions for improvements while working on a Google Doc. Students are very often seen working in pairs or groups, helping one another solve real-world problems and sometimes even skyping with authors. 

There is more to come and new initiatives on the horizon that will continue to amaze us all, and perhaps one day, renew our view of schooling even from what we know today.  What will tomorrow bring?

Anthony J. Palmisano is the superintendent for School District 45, DuPage County.

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