Loudon County Schools was the proud recipient of the SCORE Rise to the Challenge competition for best practices in the classroom. We highlighted Digital Learning Day, which took place February 6.

Like all school districts, Loudon County has many great teachers who integrate technology in unique ways every day. We have daily distance-learning opportunities, interactive whiteboards with student response systems, video streaming, open Internet network to allow a controlled social media presence, a handful of 1:1 classrooms, and tablets and PCs in the majority of classrooms. As we prepare for PARCC testing, we have increased our bandwidth, upgraded wireless connectivity in the schools, purchased mobile wireless labs, and provided professional development in utilizing classroom technology. Despite these technology advances, there are good teachers who just need a little extra help and motivation to step outside their comfort zone to try something different.  Thus, the idea of Digital Learning Day took form.

Digital Learning Day is a national event sponsored by the Alliance for Excellent Education. The premise is to showcase at least one day a year all the best practices in digital teaching and learning.

I signed up our district to participate in the fall of 2012 and began forwarding information to all our teachers. The challenge was to plan an innovative lesson based on Common Core Standards and include a technology component. I offered to help them come up with ideas and make sure they had the necessary technology and infrastructure to make their project a learning success. To sweeten the deal, the district offered technology “prizes” to the classes who best exemplified a seamless integration of CCSS, project based learning, and technology applications. Four class sets of iPads went to the winners.

The lessons exceeded our expectations. We had participants across all grade levels and disciplines. Beth Sandidge, Art Teacher at Philadelphia Elementary, created a lesson that integrated math and science using a Pro-Bot robot for drawing. Also from PES, Patrick Bethel (eighth-grade Math Teacher) and Angela Bright-White (eighth-grade Social Studies) created a unit using an old software favorite – Oregon Trail. They ramped up the rigor by asking students to compute the inflation rate and compare prices from 1840 to 2013.

Fort Loudoun Middle School students created a Poetry Slam movie to publish on their web site, and North Middle students in Mallory Pippin’s class showcased their graffiti walls in a movie for parents. Eaton Elementary third-graders made book report videos, Steekee Elementary third-graders created a video on Compare/Contrast, Highland Park first-graders created a “My Community” video they donated to the Loudon County Visitor’s Center, and CTE students in Bobby Amburn’s Loudon High Agriculture Class created a video showing how they use a geometry APP to design and create a self-supporting ellipse for their outdoor classroom. Fifth-graders at Loudon Elementary read books via video conference with students in Texas, and Greenback middle school students in Josh Talley’s and Jeff Byrd‘s classes created cartoons depicting historical events using a free web application.

We showcased many of these projects on our web site and invite you to enjoy them at The Teacher’s Tech Lounge  site.