Roads to Reform: Freedom Area High School

In the second year of the CFF grant, Freedom Area High School has almost achieved a one-to-one ratio of students to computers. Their focus on Rigor, Relevance, Relationships, and Reflection has come to life through a school-wide infusion of technology. As they continue to push forward, professional development, assessment, and teacher collaboration have increasing importance.

 

In the second year of the CFF grant, Freedom Area High School has almost achieved a one-to-one ratio of students to computers. Their focus on Rigor, Relevance, Relationships, and Reflection has come to life through a school-wide infusion of technology. As they continue to push forward, professional development, assessment, and teacher collaboration have increasing importance.

 

Teachers Take the Lead

From idea to implementation, Freedom teachers are involved in every step of the reform process.

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Tom Hickey is respected by his teacher peers.

In his second year as a full-time technology coach, Tom Hickey has gradually shifted his focus from infrastructure to instruction. Not only does Hickey visit and participate in content area classes, he provides professional development to his peers, many of whom received new technology within the last few months. On a cold February afternoon, teachers Carole Hartman, Dennis Partridge, and Frank Hernandez are spending their afternoon planning period with Hickey as he teaches them to use wikis in their classes.

All along, teachers have initiated reforms, says Principal Rusty Staub. Steering committees, professional development, and collaboration are cornerstones of the change process. The principal facilitates this change through hiring practices, teacher evaluation, and procuring resources for new initiatives.

Successes in technology in Freedom

Beyond NCLB and AYP: One Superintendent’s Experience of School District Reform

Freedom Area Senior High School website

21st Century Promise for Student and Teacher Success



School leaders encourage teachers to use their new technology, not only to engage their students, but also to “go deep” with their content using these tools. This year, the addition of a Communications class is emphasizing the school-wide focus on media literacy, an essential 21st-century skill. Teacher David Hartman challenges students to read, write, and speak clearly, and to use presentation tools to support their communication skills.

Armed with new skills and classrooms full of laptops, teachers make every effort to work collaboratively on special projects. The power of these projects seems especially salient in an election year. Together, Hartman and World Cultures teacher Roslyn Ionta work to help students see the value of civic engagement.



Election Project guidelines

 

Real Skills for Real Life

Students focus on the future in content area and elective classes.

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A student produced show highlights real-world career skills.

At Freedom, students are encouraged to be decisive. From course schedules to political parties, teachers and administrators want their students to self-advocate and self-evaluate. Students, teachers, and administrators look at strengths and weaknesses equally as they help students plan for their futures.

All students are given opportunities to explore careers, starting in their freshman year. E-folios allow students to research career fields through many lenses throughout their high school years. But by no means are they limited by their e-folio topic.. Preparation for the workforce is infused into curriculum in both core content and enrichment areas.

Anatomy and Physiology is a popular class at Freedom. Teacher Brandi Benedict notices an increasing number of students who are interested in health and medical science careers and does everything she can to relate their interests to the course content.



COSI Total Knee Replacement: teacher information

Opportunities abound for students who hope for digital media careers as well. Band director and teacher Keith Kovalic, known as “KK” to his students, developed a course in music and video technology that includes a full production studio. This elective course builds practical tech skills for outgoing students, while benefiting the whole school community.


 

Measuring Learning

Technology infusion ushers in new ways to assess student understanding.

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Student accountability is an issue in a classroom full of laptop computers.

With hundreds of laptops arriving at their school this year, teachers are seeing their traditional classroom skills put to the test. There is a noticeable absence of teacher-centered instruction in the school where project-based learning is the norm. As a result, crucial conversations about assessment and accountability for students creep up in a variety of classrooms.

Student projects are assessed on their use of technology as well as depth of the content, but informal assessment is more of a challenge for teachers. It’s hard to gauge student understanding when they are working independently at computers. In World Cultures, Roslyn Ionta pairs students whose skills and behaviors are complementary. As a result, students like Ben are both challenged and supported.

Ben’s profile of Israel from his World Cultures class



Classrooms for the Future Research

 

Critical Perspective

 

See Dr. Ron Sofo’s-Critical Perspective