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Downers Grove

Technology, Common Core Standards play big role in District 58

The Common Core State Standards have had a dramatic impact on schools since Illinois officially adopted the standards in 2010.  

The purpose of the Common Core, as stated on the official website, is to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.  

As director of technology for Downers Grove District 58, I was interested to see how technology fits within these standards.

Educators want to use technology in such a way that it augments or redefines learning, and the key to that is to embed the technology to allow for new and more effective opportunities. When technology is considered separately, it often becomes an add-on, or a substitute for traditional materials and methodologies.  

The Common Core standards reflect this philosophy. Instead of separate technology standards within the Common Core, technology is deeply embedded.  

For those interested in taking a closer look, several educators collaborated on a document that pulls out the key vocabulary related to technology, which can be found at

As an example, the writing grade four standard states, “With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others.”

The purposeful inclusion of Internet, publishing, interacting and collaborating in one sentence is very interesting. 

The key to meeting this standard is to create an authentic audience for a student’s writing – to provide student work with a bigger audience than the refrigerator.  

To meet this standard, Downers Grove District 58 is focused on creating walled garden opportunities for teachers and students to safely publish, collaborate and interact with fellow learners.  

Our Technology Department defines a walled garden as a safe digital environment where teachers and administrators can moderate digital communication. Teachers have reported higher student engagement through this type of deeper, richer learning experience.

The greatest impact has been an overall positive improvement toward learning in our classrooms.

Scott Meech is director of technology for Downers Grove Grade School District 58.

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