Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Preparing Students to Succeed in a Digital World

One of Mesquite ISD’s goals is to infuse 21st century skills throughout the district, integrating technology as a tool for problem-solving and creativity. This summer, our principals had the privilege of working with Alan November, an internationally recognized expert in the area of preparing students to succeed in a digital world. With his guidance, we are incorporating key strategies into our classrooms so that students are able learn and develop critical skills using the most current technology.

In your opinion, what knowledge, skills and values will our community’s graduates need to function effectively in the interconnected world of the 21st century?


  1. A skill that will help our future graduates is effective communication via email. I find in the workplace that problems can develop as a result of poor communication skills. Emails are either hard to understand or they are simply not read as the message is too long or complex.

    Developing a message and presenting it in a manner which is easy for the intended audience to read is something each student should have opportunity to learn.

    The opportunity to practice this skill is something each teacher could provide if they would encourage email as a method of communication.

    I know from recent experience that students who matriculate into college with this skill will use it a lot when they need to communicate with teachers and study groups.

  2. Thank you for your input. The point you make is very good, and I will forward this to those in the instructional division. There is no substitute for clear communication regardless of the tools being used.

  3. If you are incorporating technology into activities to encourage problem-solving, why is Mesquite behind many surrounding districts by not having their grade books posted for parents to be able to review their children's grades and progress within any given subject?

    Many of your parents want to be on top of our children's education, but we have full time jobs and cannot spend our time during the day trying to reach teachers to get updates on our children. Grades posted for parents to access would make things easier for the working parents. It will also build the relationship between parents, students, and teacher to keep those students that have parents working full time jobs to be able to work together in a more efficient manner to ensure that every child is successful.

  4. Mesquite ISD has been working on an online parent portal for some time; however, until now, the student information software that we use was not compatible with any of the existing parent portal technology. We also wanted to be sure that sufficient security and authentication features were included to protect student privacy. In the spring, all of our teachers will begin using electronic gradebooks that will provide an interface through a parent portal. The portal itself will be piloted at several campuses in the spring, but those campuses have not been selected yet. The rest of MISD’s campuses will come on board with the technology next fall (in 2011). So beginning next school year, all MISD parents will be able to access their children’s grades through an online parent portal. We are very excited to offer this option to parents because, as you say, we want to be able to build better relationships and work efficiently with all of our parents to ensure each student’s success.

  5. I personally do not WANT my childs personal info posted on ANY website. My wife and I are not so lazy as to refuse our children a chance to grow up and make their own decision as to whether or not they want to be exposed to online security theft and other cyber crimes. We will insist that ANY communications remain in a person to person realm, where we can reasonably insure that these "PRIVATE" conversations remain just that-PRIVATE! On to the subject that was actually the reason for this post. We do need for our children to be fluent in typing(stenography)as well as "computer" savvy and proficient in a word prcessing program. I think that JUST as important though, is the teaching of HOW to be safe AND secure on the computer,so that our children know and understand just how powerful and exposing a computer can be to their personal lives and liberties!! As per the post from Dr. Henrie regarding the use of online "files" of our children, I can only strongly insist that absolutey NONE of my childrens' files be seen ANYWHERE online!!It's hard enough to keep up with the thumb drive that holds schoolwork files retrieved from "online" webpages and page files! These can absolutely be compromised and used to trojan viral script onto our "home computer" when working files through our gateway!! Let's all be eager to try new technologies and grow. Let's just also be wary of unneccessary routes through cyberworld that have no desirable educational qualities.

  6. Mesquite ISD takes every precaution to protect information about students. Our student information system, which stores all student data, has several layers of security to ensure that student data is tightly guarded. With regard to the online gradebook application and parent portal that will soon be available, parents will actually have to “opt in” to this service see information about their child online. These parents will have a unique login and password that will allow only themselves and those they designate to see a particular student’s information. The ability to view grades and other information online is a feature many parents have requested for some time, and we are glad to be able to offer it to those parents who want to be more involved in their children’s education in this way.

    Parents who choose not to use the online system can be assured that their child’s grades and other information will not be viewable online. Further, parents may also request that their child’s teachers not communicate with them by e-mail if they have a concern about privacy with electronic mail.

    MISD shares your concern about teaching students to use computers and the Internet safely. The Texas Education Agency has developed safety guidelines for students, parents and educators. These are linked from our website but can be accessed directly at

    In addition, there is a technology application TEKS curriculum resource provided by available to all elementary teachers. All students have an account, and there are web safety lessons available. The elementary guidance curriculum also includes a fourth-grade Internet safety lesson that is required for all fourth-grade students. The district is continuing to add new resources and tools for students and staff to ensure that the important lessons of Internet safety are included in each student’s educational experience.

  7. Thank you for the information Dr. Henrie, I appreciate your efforts to incorporate technology in education.

    I see my kids using technology but not necessarily as a guided educational tool. I would like to see more assignments computer based even as early as elementary school. Both of my kids are proficient in Facebook but have not a clue how to attach a Word Doc to an email and submit to a teacher. There are many schools that only accept assignments in dropboxes or emails.

    I also see a need for more research across the curriculum and teaching students how to find legitimate resources. My child not knowing something doesn't concern me as much as him not being resourceful or using technology as a resource to find the answer.

    I appreciate you reaching out and asking parents to be a part of the solution.

  8. Thank you for your comment and input. We will share this with those who plan curriculum as well as the instructional technology department.


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