OBEN Boots Up 1:1 Technology Initiative to Enhance Learning
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“We believed in our teachers’ ability to innovate if given the right technologies,” said Dr. Lisa Mulhall, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, who launched the District’s Technology Advisory Committee in 2012. “They have succeeded beyond our expectations, and we are excited to bring these initiatives to scale.”
Two key factors sparking excitement throughout the District are the expansion of accessibility so that all students have the ability to enhance their learning, and increased frequency of use where technology is not just a piece of the classroom experience but rather an integral component of all classes, which will essentially transform the way students learn.
“The goal is to engage, excite and personalize instruction for students so that they not only can access multimedia content but they can also create it,” said Ms. Janna Ostroff, K-12 Supervisor for Science and Technology for Instruction. “It puts students in the driver’s seat and gives them as many opportunities as possible to engage in different ways of learning.”
Ms. Ostroff pointed out that a lot of tech-based learning is already going on in the classrooms.
“We approached technology differently from a lot of other districts in that we led with the instruction; we led with the resources; we already provided a technology-rich, multi-device environment within our District,” she said.
With so many interactive resources online, the District specifically chose age-appropriate devices that allow students to post and exchange information with each other, work collaboratively and grow as a learning community.
For 2nd graders, iPads were selected because of the opportunity to use a diverse set of age-appropriate apps and because 2nd graders have a great ease of use with a touch-based application system as opposed to a keyboard and typing system. While 2nd graders have access in the classroom to laptops, and students are able and are beginning to type, a touch-based tablet was best to access content and embed deep, rich resources that address the skills and learning at that age level.
According to 2nd grade teachers Mr. Brian Agostini and Ms. Jennifer Patti, using iPads for certain projects in the classroom over the past two years has enhanced learning “more than we could have ever expected.” In addition to greater engagement and individualized instruction, the devices bring families into the classroom to get an understanding of what their children are learning. “Through apps like Seesaw, parents can see pictures and read descriptions of student work straight from their own child,” Mr. Agostini said. “Teachers can also write private messages to parents who then receive instant notification on their phones.”
For 4th and 7th graders, Chromebooks were selected, which have a tablet effect as well. They are touch-screen tablets. They fold over like a tablet. They have a self-facing and world-facing camera, but they also have a keyboard. By using Chromebooks students will increase their typing skills and become familiar with Google Classroom including Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Sheets. They will also learn how to create presentations for various audiences and become familiar with internet safety and how to find reliable information on the web. To support students and their work, typing is being incorporated into the 4th and 7th grade curricula.
Fourth-grade teacher Ms. Janet Link provided this example of how Chromebooks will change the learning landscape in the classroom.
“Rather than just learning about the landforms of New York State, students can take virtual field trips and see breathtaking 360-degree views of geographical features,” she said. “They can connect with other students and adult experts to learn how the land affects the lives of its inhabitants. Then, students can choose how they would like to present the information they've learned using a variety of presentation platforms.”
Dr. Mulhall noted, "With each new innovation, I see another return on our Board of Education and community’s investment. We will continue building on every great new idea that emerges.”
Theodore Roosevelt 2nd graders in Mr. Brian Agostini's class engage in a reading lesson supported by the use of iPads as an instructional tool. Through the app, Padlet, students can see in a bulletin board format, how their peers completed the exercise, helping them gain greater understanding of their reading.
Seventh-grade students are issued Chromebooks to use in the classroom and at home as part of the District’s 1:1 technology initiative during Baymen Day.
Seventh-grade students and parents acclimate to Chromebooks during Baymen Day.
Students display their Chromebooks with Dr. Lisa Mulhall, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, left, and Ms. Janna Ostroff, K-12 Supervisor for Science and Instructional Technology.
Seventh-grade students and their parents received an overview of the devices before they were distributed on Baymen Day, Aug. 29, including their use and care. If students have a problem with functionality during the year, they can go to the library media center, fill out a ticket, get a loaned device for the remainder of the school day, and the District will follow up. Parents have the option of applying for insurance to cover damages covered outside of manufacturing errors. Cases were provided to protect the devices.
Holding his new Chromebook, 7th grader Matthew Vera said, “I’m excited that we’re getting our own property to work in school and at home, and I think the Chromebook will help us with our projects and our work in general.”
“It’s a great initiative,” added his mother, Ms. Maureen Vera. “It helps with the whole school communication. You don’t have to worry about a pen drive or printing. Everything is saved in Google and with features such as Google Slides and Google Docs it makes everything so much easier and seamless.”
To make the most of their devices, technological resources are available on the District website to all community members by clicking on the “Technology” tab on the home page.
“We are preparing students with 21st century skills,” Ms. Ostroff added. “They are going to be prepared to create content and improve their digital literacy by asking their own questions and searching to find their own answers. We’re excited to give them these opportunities and see where they take them.”