On April 14, 2020, FISD was awarded a Technology Lending Grant by the Texas Education Agency. The grant provided Chromebooks to all Floresville High School juniors and 42 hotspots for weekly checkout. The goals of the grant support the FISD Strategic Plan strategy that charges the district to create innovative learning environments for students while also helping FISD to complete its one-to-one initiative that provided every student with their own device.
In early November, FHS students were asked to complete a survey about their access to and use of these new digital tools. Then, on November 12, 2020, administrators met with a group of 31 high school students to share that data and discuss face-to-face how these tools have impacted their learning. During the session, students divided into grade-level groups to share their thoughts and determine their top priorities moving forward.
Dr. Rhonda Wade, Assistant Superintendent, and one of the focus group’s facilitators shared some of the benefits students identified.
“Students appreciate the ability to have anytime/anywhere access to instructional resources. Teachers are able to add instructions and resources that students are able to access during and after class which makes the completion of assignments easier. Students also feel more organized and enjoy the ability to access a variety of resources immediately,” explained Wade.
However, according to FHS Principal, Marcia Gonzales, students still want a balance in their instruction. “While they (students) feel digital activities are engaging, they still want teachers to give them that personal direct teach,” she said.
Students also identified areas of concern, including access to more internet sites and resources.
“It’s a tricky issue. We want to provide students with a variety of resources available to them on the internet, but we also have to be certain that information is appropriate for the academic setting. We will continue to work to provide access to information that students want but also keep them safe in the space of the internet,” shared Urbanczyk.
The next focus group will convene in December but this time administrators will talk to teachers. According to Dr. Bays, FISD Superintendent, getting feedback from both teachers and students is an important part of evaluating the effectiveness of FISD’s practices to ensure the district is preparing every student for a prosperous life. She believes the Technology Lending Grant has helped in that pursuit.
“The FISD Technology Lending Grant has helped FISD advance its Strategic Plan not only by moving us closer to the goal of providing devices for every student but also by changing the learning environment, making it more engaging and more reflective of the work and education environment our students will enter after they leave Floresville High School,” explained Bays.