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Kulshan Prepares for 1:1

Educators in Action

With the voter-approved technology levy that passed in Feb. 2016, Bellingham Public Schools is currently preparing staff and students to teach and learn with digital resources in exciting and innovative ways.

Focusing on enhancing all outcomes of The Bellingham Promise, the Educational Technology team is engaging staff, students and families in using these new 1:1 resources.

Preparing Our Instructional Staff

The first 1:1 schools (Kulshan Middle School and Squalicum and Options high schools) have worked all school year to prepare for student 1:1 programs. All students at these three schools will receive devices in Aug. 2017.

In keeping with the recommendations from our Student Technology Think Tank, the district invested in preparation and professional development for staff and schools as part of the 1:1 initiative. Dr. Bill Palmer, director in the Department of Teaching and Learning (DTL) has led this work all school year, and has partnered with principals to establish Technology Learning Teams (TLT’s) at the first 1:1 schools, Kulshan, Squalicum and Options.

These teams are composed of students, teachers, counselors and administrators, as well as key staff from our DTL and Ed Tech teams. Their purpose is to develop structures needed at their schools to support this new program, as well as identify related professional learning, refine processes, routines and protocols to support implementation of 1:1 devices. Each school also has an Educational Technology Coach on their TLT to assist with shifts in teaching and learning techniques. TLT groups have identified school needs, planned professional development, tested devices and planned for close family and community partnerships. Based on research and input from students and staff, the teams have selected a 2-in-1 device (laptop convertible to tablet) as the 1:1 device. They have been distributed to the teachers at Squalicum, Options, and Kulshan, and will be distributed to the students at these schools next school year.

Palmer believes that this year of preparation underscores how closely the technology initiative is aligned with The Bellingham Promise outcomes. “I’m noticing cohorts of teachers excited about their students creating and communicating in a digitally connected world,” he says, “and at the same time they are helping students think critically about the impact of digital technology and information on their personal health, families, and culture at large.”

Palmer is also excited about ‘removing barriers for students’ by making digital resources more accessible.

“The digital tools will support reading and language fluency and promote innovation and flexibility to ensure we meet the needs of all students.”

Working with Palmer, Tommy Lingbloom is the educational technology coach at Kulshan Middle School and he shared the following classroom snapshots of the 1:1 preparation at Kulshan Middle School.

Lingbloom reports:

Kulshan hosted two family technology nights this spring. The first meeting focused on how 1:1 contributes to outcomes in The Bellingham Promise. The second meeting, with more than 130 parents and students in attendance, engaged families in a discussion about technology use at home.

We see The Bellingham Promise outcomes being fulfilled every day at Kulshan, but there is still work to be done, and complete access to technology is our next step.

In sixth grade core class, students are becoming Historians and Global Thinkers by authentically researching what makes a long-lasting, effective civilization, and Leaders, Team Players and Collaborators as small groups design their own civilizations. Access to technology allows groups and individuals to research the topics that are relevant to them, with timing that works for them.

In a single class period, one group was examining necessary natural resources, another was researching types of government, and a third was discussing the role of trade within a civilization. Access to technology when the need arises allows for fluid, authentic and student-driven learning.

“1:1 technology allows for proactive planning, rather than reactive,” said teacher Jennifer Frimml. “Currently we have to plan the learning around when we have access to computers. Next year that won’t be a limitation.”

In seventh grade language arts, students are becoming Innovators and Creators and Effective Communicators as they embark on a media project to communicate what “Power” means to them. Student groups are taking control of their own learning as they choose to create podcasts, photo essays, or even short films to convey their message. The project hinges on access to technology, which isn’t always available when needed.

“Students are communicating face to face and digitally, both with each other and experts in our community,” said Tim Cosgrove. “Technology creates opportunity for authentic learning,” adds Jodie Schoolcraft, “Students can access outside resources and create a product that impacts audiences beyond school walls.”

Outside experts from the Bellingham Youth Media Project supported the project along the way, and student viewed their final products at the Pickford.

In eighth grade, students are demonstrating their prowess as Scientists and Mathematicians as they make short videos to explain whether the creation of ice cream was a chemical reaction or physical change. Their abilities as Critical Thinkers and Problem Solvers were on full display as they analyzed changes in temperature and properties.

“The District provides materials for amazing investigations, but an essential part of that process is making sense of what we observe,” shared Sarah Malkovich. “Access to technology allows for collaborative, efficient sense-making processes, with a variety of pathways to meet different student needs, and high accountability for all students.”

Teachers received their new devices in early March, and as they become more familiar with wireless projection and digital ink,  they are embracing the opportunity that 1:1 brings for them and their students. The Bellingham Promise is in full swing at Kulshan Middle School, but we are excited for equitable and consistent access to technology to take us even further.

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