Merrill Area Public Schools hosted a launch event Monday to showcase its partnership with Discovery Education and to welcome the MAPS Digital Leader Corps teacher leaders into the program. Through Discovery Education’s Digital Leader Corps (DLC), MAPS staff will be trained on cutting edge technology integration tools to support student achievement.
MAPS will be following the DLC model for professional development over the next five years.
“The purpose of it is to provide teachers with the support to utilize the technology at a high level,” said MAPS technology director Keshia Mashak.
Last year, MAPS rolled out one-to-one iPads for elementary and middle school students. Merrill High School students will be receiving iPad Pros at the beginning of this school year.
“Now we want to make sure teachers have the added support to utilize the devices effectively,” Mashak added. “Learning the technology is a huge endeavor for a district, so we want to take it slow.”
Two Discovery Education coaches will be assigned to Merrill, one at middle and high schools and another assigned to the elementary schools.
“The Discovery Education Digital Leader Corps is a group of teachers that were selected through peer nomination to get professional development to go back into their buildings and then model what effective technology integration looks like,” Mashak said.
MAPS has been working on a personalized learning approach for students, and this program applies personalized learning to the staff as well.
“We talk all the time about how learning is best for students through personalizing their learning, and yet some schools offer professional development where it’s one-size-fits-all for teachers,” Mashak said.
Starting in October, the DLC teachers will receive a monthly group session. Coaches will also be available to work with teachers individually on specific interests.
Merrill High School Social Studies teacher Doug Iwen will be part of the DLC team. He said he’s excited about the opportunity to learn new ways to teach his students and other educators through technology.
“This really is exciting,” said the 22-year veteran educator. “Education is always evolving and this is major. It’s going to take time for everyone to adjust.”
Even though technology now allows students to hold an entire library’s worth of information in the palm of their hand, they still need to know how to sift through all that information, Iwen noted.
“It’s no longer just about the memorization of facts, a lot of it is the process,” Iwen said. “We have to teach them how to use that information. Today gave us some of the new methods to engage students. We are ahead of a lot of districts. Everything we heard today was technology based.”