Learner Voice and Evidence Based Practice
West Leyden High School
Franklin Park, IL
Leyden District 212, located near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, is a diverse high-school district with two schools and 3,400 students. More than 30 languages are spoken, and the majority of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. “Our goal is to meet students where they are and prepare them for life after high school, whether they’re going on to higher education, the work force, or the military,” says technology director Bryan Weinert.
While this goal is not new to the district, technology has helped make it a reality. “There used to be pockets of excellence,” Weinert explains, “with those teachers who were gung ho about technology tapping into the limited resources the district had at the time. But then we realized it was essential for blended learning to happen for all our students.”
The district launched 1:1 pilots to determine the best way to proceed. Chromebooks emerged as their device of choice because of teacher enthusiasm for Google Apps and other cloud-based resources. In the fall of 2012, Leyden was one of the first three districts in the country to go 1:1 with Chromebooks.
Concerns quickly developed in two areas:
- There was no consistency from one class to another. Teachers were inventing their own systems for sharing and collecting assignments and offering feedback. This was difficult for teachers and confusing for students.
- Educators felt anxious about teaching in this new environment. They found it difficult to manage it all and feel confident that they were on top of the new way of doing things. District leaders brought in Hapara’s management tools to address these problems. As Weinert says, “A 1:1 learning environment is a puzzle with so many parts to it, and Hapara’s Teacher Dashboard was the missing piece. It changed the game for us. We were able to standardize how the Google tools were used and to have subject-area folders and calendars managed at the district level. It saved hundreds of hours of our teachers’ time and made a world of difference.”
Since then the district has added Hapara’s Workspace and Highlight modules, which Weinert describes as “phenomenal.” West Leyden principal Dr. Tatiana Bonuma reports that, “Students are now more confident about their work and can verbalize what they’re doing and what goals they’re working towards. It’s become a way of life. There’s been an increase in attendance and grades because students are engaged, happy, and feel connected to something!”