The Nevada Pathway Project grew out of the Nevada Educational Technology Plan and statewide concern about student engagement and achievement. Stakeholders recognized that it is crucial that Nevada's students are prepared for the demands of the 21st century. Participating teachers and administrators take part in a two-year professional development program, funded through Federal ARRA, focused on recognizing and addressing the needs of 21st-century students through the framework of the revised Nevada Educational Technology Standards, which align to the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS-S). All of the professional development takes place in an online environment in order to bring 120 teachers and 45 administrators, in addition to grant staff and technology support personnel, together on a common platform. The objectives for the Pathway Project are to create effective professional development that will change teacher behavior in the classroom, resulting in increased student engagement and learning at higher levels of thinking; and to identify appropriate bundles of effective classroom technology resources and professional development for future use in Nevada classrooms. Teachers engage in rigorous professional development to understand 21st-century themes, skills and outcomes, then create and implement lessons that will bring about the outcomes. Each participating school has one to two teachers and a supporting administrator. In addition, teachers were given a class set of iPods and laptops to share. Teachers and administrators also received their own iPod as a tool to integrate into both their personal and professional lives.
While the Nevada Pathway Project focuses on teacher professional development, the Nevada Pathway Leadership Project was conceived to challenge and change administrator attitudes and behaviors regarding technology use. Currently, Nevada ranks 48th in spending per pupil, with about $8,029 spent for each student in 2010. Additionally, Nevada schools are both urban and rural with disparity among district and school infrastructures as a major impediment to technology integration. Part of making technology a priority for school boards and administrators is accomplished by showing the tremendous gains that can be achieved and exposing the tremendous costs of not integrating. The Nevada Pathway Leadership Project aims at creating professional development for administrators that is both informative and provocative that they can lead their schools down the pathway into the 21st century. Forty-five administrators from all 17 counties are participating. Using the NETS-A, online professional development leads administrators in moving forward in visionary leadership; creating a digital age culture; excelling in professional practice; making systematic improvement; and becoming informed and productive digital citizens. This is done by creating professional learning communities, joining communities of practice, collaborating with others to learn and lead in technology integration practices, and gain skills necessary to support teachers and students participating in the Pathway Project.
"Today's world of work has changed dramatically over the last fifty years and we must produce students who learn to adapt to the changing workforce needs. We must develop students who have a thirst for STEM in the K-12 realm so they are prepared at the 13-16 level to be successful. I truly believe students of today has a far greater chance of being whatever they want to be as comparison to fifty years ago. Students living in poverty today are impacted to a far greater degree and if they use the opportunities present to them, they have a far greater chance of being a prepared learner. A mission of a school should be to prepare all students to be academically proficient and to conduct themselves as responsible members of our school and community." - John Moddrell, Lander County Administrator
"The average person holds 5-15 jobs in their lifetime and we see now in our country the ability to adapt to different job skills has become increasingly important. Because of this we need to teach our students to be learners. Teaching students to think critically, adaptation skills, and collaboration to solve a problem are all crucial to their success as adults. This will lend themselves to success in the job market as these are all skills that employers value in competent adults." - Colby Corbitt, Elko County Administrator
"One of my teachers is working on a poetry unit. She incorporated Greek god information from an app on the [iPod Touch] and then had students apply the information in a comic strip. I can't remember which software she used but it sounded really fun and engaging to students. A fun way to teach poetry to a middle schooler." - Jim Verdi, Washoe County Administrator
"I was visiting one of my teachers this past week. We were discussing some of the challenges associated with getting kids knowledgeable enough to pass the HSPE. One of our main challenges seems to be related to vocabulary. She is using a new approach. She is having kids look at 5 sample questions. Then they circle the words they do not know. Now they use their iPod and the flashcard application to write the words on the flashcard and look up the definitions in their book or dictionary. All well and good and very traditional. Here is where they use a different technique. Now they are allowed to go to Youtube (the teacher previews the site first) and are allowed to search for a video that describes the word. An example is that they were looking at waves and the different types. There are 2 that are fairly closely related and the definitions are sometimes confusing. The students find a video they like and add that to the definition of the word. Then they study. The results? For the first time ever the class average an 87%. We discussed this method of using non-linguistic representation as an instructional strategy. The time and effort put in was well related to the results the students were achieving. These are students who struggle every day. My teacher is a professional!" - Leslie Lotspeich, Elko County Administrator