District 109 offers innovative programs for students and facilities to support student engagement and learning. Students in the elementary schools, grades K-5, have STEM classes during the week (60 minutes/week). Students in the middle schools have choice in elective classes, including:
- STEM: Students in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) course select “learning launchers” that take them through hands-on, minds-on projects in STEM and applied technology, such as software engineering, robotics, circuitry, and mechanics/structures, coding, virtual reality, and more.
- CMA: Like the STEM labs, the Communication Media Arts classes offer a variety of learning opportunities, including computer graphics, video production, digital communication, virtual reality and more.
- Digital Music Studio: modern methods of music composition, recording, and production using computers, digital audio software, and electronic and acoustic instruments.
Over the past few years, many of our learning spaces have been updated to meet the needs of our students:
The Shepard and Caruso science classrooms and labs were renovated to become state-of-the-art facilities with flexible space that enhances teaching and learning – and excitement about science. Designed with detailed input from District 109 science teachers, the labs have received awards and are models for other school districts.
All elementary schools renovated their Library Media Centers, with generous support from the PTOs, to incorporate SMARTLabs which are currently utilized by our elementary STEM teachers.
All general music, instrumental music, and art spaces were renovated.
All middle schools renovated their Library Media Centers to serve as a Learning Commons, an active learning space that serves as the hub of innovative learning for the school.
1:1 in 109
District 109 is a 1:1 teaching and learning environment. Students in grades K-1 are issued an iPad for educational purposes. Students in grade 2-8 are issued a touchscreen 2-in-1 Chromebook. Devices for all grades are take-home. As a 1:1 school district, we utilize online tools to promote collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creativity, and digital citizenship. The primary focus of our digital tools is to enhance learning so that students can grow academically at their own place, pace, and path as well as to enhance parent/guardian communication. Digital tools are an extension of classroom instruction to help meet the individual needs of students in a blended learning environment. Digital tools are also utilized for student digital portfolio creation connecting parents and guardians for enhanced communication and to allow a window into their child’s learning.
Teachers further their ability to use technology to enhance their teaching through various professional development opportunities provided at both the district level and at each individual school site. We are a Google for Education learning environment with many of our staff having gone through trainings to become Google Certified Educators as well as Google Certified Trainers.
Our Chief Technology Officer manages and supports the infrastructure and provides support to staff and students.
At our core, we believe:
- That the nature of information and knowledge is changing.
- That students learn differently today.
- That education has to become about more than just standardized tests.
- That we live in a digital age, dominated by information, that sees technological advancements happening at an exponential rate.
- That we must prepare students for their futures, not our past.
- That students have a fundamental right to expect an education that reflects these principles. (credit Leyden 212)