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Innovative District Encourages Others to “Empower Up”

April 29, 2016

Five years ago, Spring Chang was part of a team of fifth-grade teachers seeking to put an iPad in the hands of every student in their district. The teachers’ push for tech was a big success: now, every third through fifth grader in Oregon’s North Marion School District has a tablet, and one-to-one programs are spreading to older and younger students as well.  However, technology is only the tool—as her elementary school’s instructional coach, Chang knew she needed to help her teachers find the best ways to use it to improve teaching and learning, and spread the word about their efforts to others as well.

That’s why for the past three years, Chang has organized the “Empowered Up” event, which invites visitors to come to North Marion classrooms and see tech in action. This year’s crew included teachers, administrators, and IT experts from around the region. Each time they dropped into a class, the guests saw the ways that tech can make an impact no matter the subject. In technology class, students learned about plagiarism and the importance of digital citizenship. In P.E. they used digital tools to measure their own performance, and they even put on a laser light show in the music room.

In just a short time, North Marion has gone from a low-tech district to one that showcases the power of innovation in the classroom. Bigger districts in cities like Portland are taking notice, too. “I’ve been to events about one-on-one devices used in the classroom, but never in Oregon,” said Josh Klein, Chief Information Officer at Portland Public Schools. “So it’s nice to see this happening locally.”