Roots uses a centralized software selection process organized around three components:
- Diligence Driven By Identified Instructional Priorities: Roots has a list of instructional priorities and the software must not only match a priority, it must fill an instructional gap within that priority that is not currently being met. Teachers are the primary voice in identifying gaps and, once they are identified, the question of “do we need an app to make this instruction better?” is discussed among the staff. If a software gap is confirmed, Roots then reaches out to other schools for recommendations of what software might best meet this need.
- Piloting: Once software is selected, Roots conducts a small pilot to verify whether it actually meets the identified need. These pilots are implemented by the Director of Operations and a content teacher, as well as a small group of students. The students are taught how to use the app, which is then incorporated into their schedules for about two weeks. Teachers and school leaders observe the students’ software usage and collect feedback. If students are engaged, then the pilot team double-checks for standards alignment and begins to scale the software throughout the school.
- Annual Review: Roots’ review process helps ensure technology dollars are spent wisely every year. There is a review of every app at the end of each year, focusing on whether the app is still meeting instructional needs. Having crafted a vision for success during the selection process, the leadership team will determine whether the software was used successfully. They will also consider whether there are any school system practices that may need to be shifted to make the software instruction more successful (e.g., Providing five minutes at the end of every Friday for students to download books). This review process also helps the team “scan the market” on a consistent basis to determine whether there are new software options that may better meet their instructional need.