New Technology Pilot Program Ready At Henderson ISD
By KELLY GOOCH
Electronic devices are slated to pop up more frequently in Henderson ISD classrooms next school year.
A new pilot program called Bring Your Own Device will allow Henderson High School
students to use electronic devices, such as tablets, cellphones and laptops, in classrooms with teacher permission. In past years, students were allowed to have electronic devices at school but were not allowed to use them.
Henderson ISD Deputy Superintendent Dr. Raylene Conner said a group of 22 teachers has agreed to be part of the initiative and developed specific rules. Those teachers were sent to training and will likely get their own portable device, she said. However, that does not mean other teachers can't also permit their students to use electronic devices for learning purposes.
"The main goal is to increase access for students through technology," Ms. Conner said. "There's just so much out there, and we felt like our students, our own technology in HISD was so limited. ... A lot of colleges are depending on technology, and we needed to prepare students better."
She said the district also wanted students to know more about how they can properly use technology to learn instead of just using them for social purposes.
Once the technology is in place, teachers will design lessons that allow students to incorporate the devices, and students can use them with teacher permission, Ms. Conner has said. That could include research, taking notes or accessing useful websites.
Students will have that access through the school's wireless network, which contains filters.
Teachers know they also need to monitor and make sure students haven't gotten to websites they shouldn't, Ms. Conner said. Students will not be allowed to use the devices in hallways.
"The biggest thing is students and parents need to understand it's not wholesale access to your device. It's going to be definitely controlled, and they'll use their technology as they are directed," Ms. Conner said.
In the future, Henderson ISD is considering bringing the initiative to other district campuses.
Bring Your Own Device is not the only change students will see this fall.
The dress code also will be a little different. Ms. Conner said students in kindergarten through eighth grade cannot have anything cut into their hair and eyebrows, such as signs or numbers.
At the high school, boys no longer have to tuck in their shirts, and for kindergarten through 12th grade, the length requirement for shorts and skirts has changed. Ms Conner said shorts and skirts can now be three inches above the knee. Standardized dress is still in place for kindergarten through eighth grade.
Updated information on the dress code is expected to be put on the district website, www.hendersonisd.org
, this week.
Additionally, like other districts in Texas, Henderson ISD expanded the definition of bullying per new bullying legislation and explained what the consequences are if someone is found to be a bully, Ms. Conner said.
"The Legislature has really been a whole lot more specific on what constitutes bullying and added things like cyber bullying and sexting ..." she said. "It talks a little bit about what bullying is and that it has the affect of harming a student. Before, bullying was left up to the definition of the person discerning the rules but now it is succinctly defined."
As far as the consequences, she said they will be the same, but there will have to be an investigation, which must be done within a certain amount of time. Parents of the bully, and the student who was bullied, also will have to be notified and a meeting must take place, she said.
"A lot more is involved in determining if it is bullying. Counseling may (also) have to be offered to witnesses, those bullying and those who are victims of bullying," she said.
The district also can no longer expel students from its disciplinary alternative program for consistent misbehavior.