Northeast 1506958568

Pascack Valley Regional High School District

A huge goal of the district is to use technology to promote students to be inquisitive and to self-advocate. Student wellness is a huge priority, so they are redesigning their school day as well as their approach to stress management.

State: New Jersey Number of Students: 2,032
School Type: Public School District Free and Reduced Lunch: 2.8%
Grade Level: 9-12 English Language Learners: 0.4%

School Context

Career and College Ready: The district is committed to providing students with learning opportunities at the college andcareer level to prepare them for the future.

A New Schedule: The district launched the Pascack Schedule in 2014-2015 to encourage greater independence forlearners. The schedule offers students an 88-minute block during which they can explore non-traditional classes.

Wellness First: With a major focus on student wellness, Pascack has eliminated marking periods and formal exam weeksto reduce stress for students. The district also hopes to develop a plan to support guidance counselors and the child studyteam to better assist students with emotional and mental health concerns.

Loosening the Reigns: A huge goal of the district is to use technology to promote students to be inquisitive and to self-advocate. The staff operates under the philosophy of letting learners explore and trusting students until there is a reason not to so that students can really use technology to innovate.


State of Technology

A Decade Deep: In 2004, Pascack Valley Regional High School launchedthe 1:1 eLearning Initiative. The initiative provides a district-ownedMacBook to every student and teacher. Devices have allowed districteducators to think differently about both instruction and the way theymanage student time. For example, during a snowstorm in 2014, thedistrict held its first Virtual School Day, where students participated inonline learning experiences from home since the weather prevented themfrom attending school. It is planning another two Virtual School Days inFebruary 2016 to help students prepare for college and working fromhome. On these days, the district will offer students the option of cominginto school during the day or working from home. In both cases, studentswill access learning through Canvas, the district’s LMS.

Liberty to Design Learning: Teachers in Pascack Valley are given a hugedegree of liberty when planning their curriculum. But one theme that runsthrough all courses is the aspiration to tie all work to real-world problems,rooted in student choice and collaboration. The district recently launcheda full roll-out of the Canvas Learning Management System. After a ton ofprofessional development opportunities including a boot camp, lunch andlearns and an after-school academy, teachers now use Canvas to manageassignments and calendars. Additionally, some teachers use Canvas topull digital materials to design their own courses.

Rethinking Student Wellness: Not all innovation in the district is drivenby technology. Student Wellness is a huge priority for Pascack, so they areredesigning their school day as well as their approach to stress management.

Innovative Scheduling: Pascack Valley Regional High SchoolDistrict has a new type of schedule, which was created with the goalof promoting independence among learners and encouraging themto take ownership over their learning. The new schedule features aweekly 88-minute block called “Pascack Period,” during which studentsare given entire control over their time. They can take non-traditionalclasses that range from computer networking to home repairs to the artof meat smoking. This is part of a wellness initiative, aimed to supportstudents’ interests and well-being.

A Shift In Thinking: Inspired by a few other districts, Pascack decidedto do away with formal midterm and final exam weeks. This does notmean there are no exams, but rather that there isn’t a formal weekduring which these exams are given and instructional time is lost.Teachers can give exams but they are now given during class periodsand staff works hard to ensure that there aren’t multiple exams onone day. Additionally, the district dropped the idea of marking periods,avoiding cramming in tests during certain time frames.


Tech Needs & Requirements

Technology tools must be compatible with MacBooks. Tools that are LDAP aware are preferred. Tools that support Active Directory are also preferred. The district is replacing laptop inventory and CAD workstations in June and July 2016.


Initiatives

Canvas Roll-Out: District-wide use of the Canvas LMS was launched this fall for the 2015-2016 school year. Teachers useCanvas to communicate with students, share resources and design instruction. The district chose Canvas due to its strongpresence in colleges, in the hopes that it will prepare their high school students for the transition to higher education.

Google Apps for Education: Pascack had been using Google Apps for Education informally, and in the summer of 2015,the district fully rolled out use of these tools.

*Content From 2016

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