Jessica Whorton - S.T.A.T. Teacher, Church Lane Elementary
Church Lane first graders were excited to explore with their devices and how it can enhance their learning. Alijah Lewis shares his story and what he likes about the devices.
Submitted by Katie Schmidt
5th Grade Teacher, Rodgers Forge Elementary
“I can’t believe Kindergarteners are learning THAT already!” and “Wow, things sure have changed since way back when I was in elementary school!” were comments heard throughout the building during Rodgers Forge’s annual Generations Day, held on Thursday, November 16th. Grandparents and other special family members were invited to visit the school to spend the morning with the students in their classrooms. Many visitors were shocked and amazed to see the extensive use of technology, especially with the younger students. The also got to see firsthand the engaging teaching techniques employed and the various learner-centered environments that teachers have created. A fun morning filled with learning was enjoyed by all!
Submitted by Katie Cox
S.T.A.T. Teacher, Mays Chapel Elementary
Back on September 11, this blog showcased some early teacher reflections on learner-centered environments from Mays Chapel Elementary. That brief video has been updated with more insights from teachers, clips of students working in their flexible spaces, and student voices. Check it out:
Submitted by Amy Hirsch
Professional Development Specialist, Discovery Education
Editor's Note: As part of BCPS's partnership with Discovery Education, professional development specialists from Discovery work in Lighthouse Schools several days each month to plan, co-teach, and coach teachers to create learner-centered environments and integrate digital content to enhance instruction. Amy is assigned to work with staff at Fort Garrison and Mays Chapel Elementary Schools.
When I first started to learn about BCPS Lighthouse Schools and attend the Lighthouse meetings, I really had no idea what to expect from the teachers and administration. Within ten minutes of meeting the staff of the Lighthouse Schools I’d be working with I was blown away. Each and every single one was excited for the change and transition in front of them. However, this isn’t what really stood out to me. It was the fact that when I talked to the teachers, principals, STAT teachers, counselors, resource teachers, everyone, they always brought it back to the students. This is, in my opinion, what makes a Lighthouse School.
This enthusiasm and love for students has been infused into the teachers’ transition into the new era of teaching. Now why didn’t I just write one-to-one? Well sure, the technology is a big part of this transition, but by now we all know it is a tool that is part of the transformation. However, without the pedagogy and change in the way we teach, will a true change occur? This is the exact transformation I am witnessing in the lighthouse schools. The teachers way of viewing and building their lessons has gone from the "teacher talks for 45 minutes" into a student-centered world in which the teacher has become the facilitator of rich, deep, and relevant classroom discussions. Leading students to come up with answers on their own through collaboration, small group lessons centered on their individual needs, and independent research in which the student is driving their own learning. What does that mean for the students? Engagement, drive to learn, ownership over their work, confidence, encouragement, enhancement in their overall learning…I could go on and on.
Just yesterday, one of the teachers I've been working with since the end of last school year asked me to help her create three choices for her students to use for an assessment. We created three options that the students could pick from: Wixie, BoardBuilder and the tried and true, paper and pencil. What was the end result of giving students these options? The students were able to pick the option in which they felt the most confident in and could clearly express their knowledge and guess what, each child met standard and had a complete understanding of the objective.
I was working with another teacher on a culminating task he was creating for his students that would take place in November. When we started to discuss the month’s plan, he mentioned that he would be creating a rubric for the students to use as a guide when creating their projects. I asked him why he was creating the rubric and he looked at me like I was crazy. Then I asked it again, “Why are YOU the one who is creating rubric?” This is when the light went on behind his eyes and there it was, the transformation. His reply the second time, “I should have the students help me to create the rubric! This way they will have a better understanding of what the expectations are as well as what they need to do for each category in order to achieve the highest point value.” Bingo!
Transformation doesn’t happen overnight, and at times, it can feel like it’s going at a snail’s pace but these teachers, they are doing it right and at a shockingly fast pace! It is only October! I can only imagine what the future has in store. These students have a bright future in front of them, and as always, the Lighthouse Schools are there helping to light the way.
Submitted by Lydia Hamilton - 5th Grade Student &
Katie Schmidt - 5th Grade Teacher, Rodgers Forge Elementary
Fifth grade students (along with Kindergarteners and fourth graders) did not receive the devices for this school year. Does this mean they aren’t using as much technology in the classrooms in our Lighthouse Schools as students in other grades? Check out what Rodgers Forge 5th grader Lydia Hamilton has to say about her experience this year!
Submitted by Ben Rozencwaig - 2nd Grade Student &
Lea Mussini - Counselor, Fort Garrison Elementary
Last week in Stacy Crain's 2nd grade class at Fort Garrison Elementary students learned how to use the QR reader on their devices during a writing activity. One student, Ben Rozencwaig, was so inspired he went home and made his own QR code. The next day students were able to scan it in class and read about the Orioles.
Here is Ben's reflection on his experience:
None of us had our very own computer before. We were learning about it, and Mrs. Crain showed us her QR Code. I thought this was really cool. So I went home, and I thought about what I could do for a QR code. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Orioles and the playoffs so I thought that I could do a QR code about the Orioles because I am so proud of them for making the playoffs. It was very exciting for me because we haven’t won the World Series in a really long time. It was a good way for me to express my feelings about being proud of the Orioles! The QR code is really cool and interesting to me. You can scan it and find out a lot of things about other people and things!
Submitted by Doug Elmendorf
Principal, Chase Elementary
This post originally appeared in EdTechReview
“We finally get to have a computer or device for ourselves” is what one of our third grade students said when interviewed by our school system’s TV station. It was not only the first day of school for students at Chase Elementary, it was also the first day of a 1:1 device environment for all students in grades 1-3.
At the end of the 2013-2014 school year, our school was one of ten Lighthouse Schools selected to “pilot interactive and blended instruction as a model demonstration site” as part of the Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow (S.T.A.T.) initiative (www.bcps.org). While our primary foci in this initiative are curriculum and pedagogy, on day one, all eyes were on 6-8 year old children and the HP Revolves that each of them received a few hours after summer break came to an end. Despite the TV cameras, boom mics, and temps over 90 degrees in classrooms, our first day in a 1:1 environment was quite successful. Success, in this case, was demonstrated by students’ ability to log on to and manipulate their devices to participate in meaningful learning activities. This initial positive and rewarding experience was important as it propelled us forward in our effort to provide learner-centered instructional environments for ALL students in our schoolhouse. We attribute our success to three essential factors.
Teachers understood WHY we are doing this – We have laid the groundwork and explored the “why” behind this initiative before it was ever introduced. At Chase, teachers understand that we aren’t going to help students prepare for jobs of tomorrow by teaching with methods of yesterday.
High quality technical assistance was available – The school district’s leadership had the foresight to make sure high quality technical experts were in place to troubleshoot device concerns, when they came about, in a manner that was quick, effective and built the capacity of our staff to troubleshoot their own issues in the future.
Our parents and community partners “get it” – Monthly “Coffee & Conversation” meetings with parents, ongoing communication via social media outlets, newsletters, and face-to-face meetings have helped parents to understand the “why” behind this initiative, much like our teachers have as described in #1.
The following video, produced by BCPS-TV, shows how all of our stakeholders embraced this essential move forward in providing our students with the skills necessary to be successful in the 21st century. http://vimeo.com/105134212
Here are some of the glimpses:
Reflections from teachers, administrators, and students at the Lighthouse Schools.