Mary Jadloski

Technology and differentiated instruction are taking center stage in this Texas district.
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Name: Mary Jadloski

Age: 54

Title: Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Curriculum & Instruction, 1 year

District: Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District

Tell us some of your big-picture tech goals for the year.

We are working to enhance the day-to-day instructional program with the use of technology and/or differentiated instruction (DI). All 83 of our campus principals and our curriculum leaders selected one of these two instructional paths for our General Leadership Training (GLT) this school year. We started the school year with a kickoff in October. The techology strand participants spent two days with Alan November, who focused on the use of technology as a tool to enrich students experiences in all content areas.

Participants then attended showcases at some of our schools that were identified as early adapters, those that were farther along the path regarding great technology use in the classroom. Each campus leader then created an action plan for his/her own campus and formed peer groups so that two campuses could visit each other and collaborate.

About half of our campuses selected the technology path. We found that the two paths—differentiated instruction and technology—complement each other. DI supports technology use in the classroom. It supports the teacher as he/she attempts to meet students where they are regarding interests, relevance of the learning, and prior knowledge of the content.
We have seen fantastic examples of technology use. Teachers and students are using SMART Boards, Adobe Connect, Web 2.0 tools, and many other things to enrich the everyday learning opportunities for all students.

What tech accomplishments are you most proud of?

We are in our second year of a 1:1 U.S. history project. In this program, we issue a laptop to every junior in all high schools. The students use the laptop in their four core content area courses (English, math, science, and social studies). The social studies class has the curriculum online. The students have presentations, videos, simulations, blogs, discussion boards, etc., built into the course. We want every student to experience this type of learning environment so that each will be prepared for future opportunities in this manner (college, workforce).

We also use the PLATO learning platform in a credit-reclamation program. We are excited about the success of this program and the flexibility it provides our at-risk and struggling learners.

We use Adobe Connect classrooms to assist students in taking a course that they need but is not offered at their home campus. These students meet daily with a teacher and peer at another campus. We have many instances of this and it is going very well.

We have many tutorials for students in Moodle courses in the major content areas. Students may access this information from home and at their leisure.

Are you planning to let students BYOD (bring your own device)? If so, when?

Most of our students have cell phones and many even have iPhones. We allow our teachers to use the students' technology to enhance and support the learning that goes on every day with these devices. They use these technologies to take surveys in class, gather feedback, and search for information or other resources.

We have not determined if and when we will allow students to bring their own computers to school.

Traditional or online textbooks?

We use traditional textbooks to ensure that every student has access to this basic resource. More recent textbook adoptions include online access in which students are given websites and passwords that allow them to access an online version of these resources from home. The kids love this because they do not have to tote the heavy books home.

Can your students/teachers use Facebook, MySpace, or other Web 2.0 tools?

Our teachers and students use many Web 2.0 tools. The teachers have Schoolnet web pages. Additionally, the state of Texas has developed Project Share which has many collaborative features for teacher-to-teacher, teacher-to-student, and student-to-student online interactions and collaboration. We are in the process of determining how we will implement and/or utilize each.

Professional development: face to face, online, or blended?

Professional development occurs in all of these fashions. We have many courses for teachers and administrators in the Moodle environment. Our curriculum teams are working on a Moodle book study over Eric Jensen's new research regarding poverty and the brain's response to it in learning. As our student population becomes more socioeconomically diverse, our teachers and staff need to be aware of the instructional strategies that they must employ to ensure success for students from all backgrounds. We are excited that this technology makes this learning more accessible to all staff members.

What are some of your guilty pleasures?
I love to read, especially historical biographies. I am re-reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's biography of Abraham Lincoln. The book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, demonstrates how a politically divergent group of men shepherded this nation through a very trying period of history. Great reading!

I love to do Sudoku puzzles and listen to country music, old and new. I also love to cook and bake. I am a pretty mean "Betty Crocker" when I have the time.

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