CMS Digital Learning Initiative

6th grade site – http://mila6thgrade.weebly.com

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools is committed to meeting Goal 1 of Strategic Plan 2018, which calls upon us to “Maximize academic achievement in a personalized 21st-century learning environment for every child to graduate college- and career-ready.” This commitment will require new strategies to inspire and nurture learning, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship through technology and strategic school redesign. Strategic Plan 2018 has established the expectation that by 2018 all CMS students will be able to access the worldwide classroom using technology tools to foster learning everywhere, all the time.
Why CMS has begun with middle schools?
For several years, CMS has used a digital techbook in middle schools for science and social studies. Middle schools have received several carts of mobile learning devices to support the curriculum, so teachers have built a familiarity with teaching using mobile devices. Embedded professional learning is provided by professional development facilitators at each middle school.
Why Digital Learning?
Technology in the form of devices, and internet connectivity is embedded in nearly all career paths in the 21st Century. State and National Learning Standards are requiring students to be agile learners capable of using digital tools for communicating, collaborating, critically thinking and creating. But most importantly, digital learning has the power to motivate learners and provide learning environments that:
enhance student engagement
provide personalization
extend learning time
provide equitable access to learning resources
prepares students for college and careers

How is the Digital Learning Initiative funded?
The first phase of the Digital Learning Conversion initiative has been funded primarily by one-time Race To The Top Funds. Additional schools will join the digital learning initiative as technology funds are available.
Why Chromebooks?
In the fall of 2013, CMS equipped all middle grade schools with 60 to 240 Chromebooks to deliver Discovery Education’s Techbook for Social Studies and Science classes. These Chromebooks not only provided students access to the virtual and interactive textbook resources, but they also gave students access to limitless file storage in Google Drive and a modern productivity suite of services in Google Apps for Education. The Chromebooks also required minimal technical support, stood up to daily student use, and were cost effective. For these reasons, it was decided that Chromebooks are a suitable computing device for middle grade students.


Will students take the devices home?
Initially, CMS will focus on establishing and reinforcing a standard of care and appropriate use for devices. CMS believes this is a critical step to proactively reduce the number of incidents related to damages, theft and misuse. After the initial phase is complete, data and recommendations from each school will be taken into account when assessing whether devices will be released for home use.
How will damages to devices be handled? What is the cost to students/guardians?
MILA will maintain a device use policy. Students are governed by the district’s Acceptable Use Agreement. Parent/Guardians are asked to sign the school specific policy before devices are released to the student. Policies include cost of device if damaged and disciplinary procedures for misuse.
What are the consequences for device misuse? How will disciplinary actions be handled?
MILA will address issues relating to device misuse. In the case of damage, an administrator will determine if the damage is an accident or negligence. In the case of negligence, the school will ask student’s family to address replacement.
What is a Chromebook?
A Chromebook is a laptop computer using a Google operating system. CMS uses Chromebooks in part due to cost and in part, due to extensive services provided in Google Apps for Education, free to students.
Learn more about Chromebooks: http://www.google.com/chrome/devices/features/
What happens when students move to high school?
The Digital Learning Conversion for 2014-15 is in middle grades. High schools allow students to bring their own devices much like we have at Mountain Island Lake Academy. In the 2014 contract, CMS negotiated with Hewlett Packard to allow parents and staff to purchase Chromebooks for the same $220 price as CMS purchases. Information about purchasing a Chromebook is available at http://goo.gl/c588dF.
Can students bring their own technology?
Yes, MILA provides wireless access and students are bringing many different types of devices such as smart phones, tablets, laptops, and e-readers. CMS follows the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium assessment device guidelines as a minimum standard (see chart on the next page for specifications) and encourages parents to use these specifications.
Is Google Apps for Education safe? Does Google sell my students’ data?
Google’s explanation of their Data Policies are very clear, they are committed to being transparent about providing no advertisements in their Google Apps for Education services and Google Apps for Education users own their data, not Google. They also provide world leading security technology and practices. (http://www.google.com/edu/trust/)

Why Middle Grades?
Research has shown that Middle Grade students may experience a loss of proficiency when transitioning from the elementary to middle grade levels. Devices have been strategically placed in middle schools to address these challenges with a focus on two key levers: increasing student engagement and providing opportunities to extend the learning through the flexible use of devices.
Learning Beyond School
CMS provides adaptive software to extend learning beyond the classroom, free for students. Being engaged in interactive tools helps strengthen math and reading skills. Software that is adaptive stretches learners because as students answer correctly, the questions become more difficult. Conversely, when students miss answers, questions become easier, so the learning experience is personalized for each student. These tools can be used anytime, anywhere there is connectivity.
CMS students in gradK-8 can use DreamBox Math. Students in grades 6, 7, 8 also can use Compass Odyssey Math. Students in grades K-5 have access to Reading A to Z (RAZ Kids), which provides over 1,000 books, matched to students’ reading levels. Compass Odyssey software provides support for reading and language arts skills for students in grades K-8. Students’ log in information are shared at their schools. The following chart lists current standards for help in choosing a device for school use.
Smarter Balanced Device Requirements (http://www.smarterbalanced.org/test-taking-devices-approved-secure-browsers/?_sm_au_=iVVJRJQJVSRPskFP)