Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sharing Our Efforts...

Math Dept. Head Brian McNeill Speaks With A Group of Visitors
 One of the highlights of the year for me in our initial year as a 1:1 school has been making connections with so many educators from all over the world who have wanted to speak with us about how things are progressing after the distribution of over 1,000 iPads.  As we head into the final quarter of the school year, we have been visited by representatives of over 50 schools.  I feel like a proud parent each Thursday as groups walk through and heap compliments on our students and teachers.  It is a true privilege to come to work every day in a place with such wonderful students and staff members!

Andrew Marcinek and Dennis Villano speak with a visiting group at BHS

Why we share...

There are a few reasons that we have been so open with our time for others who would like to pursue a similar initiative in their school or district.  First and foremost is to pay back the help that we have received from schools that allowed us access to their expertise as we keep in mind our journey started with a trip to Des Moines, Iowa for the 1:1 Institute. In addition, we have received some wonderful feedback from some friends in Maine who have been on this path for over a decade.

Ultimately, we are looking to build our local network of educators and schools who believe in the importance of integrating digital tools in their classrooms. The more people that we can get on board exploring the possibilities, the better it will be for all of our students. As we build capacity, we will speed up our own growth as we increase the number of local educators working together to share best practice.  It is imperative that we (the educators) model for our students the power of connected-learning as we share our own stories of building a learning network in an area we are passionate about - student learning.

With this in mind, I am thrilled that we have already supported a group of teachers from Uxbridge, MA in their 1:1 efforts.  I also saw an article this week from a newspaper in PA that shows that our work has helped Saucon Valley Middle School in Hellertown, PA. In addition, our own instructional technology staff member (Andy Marcinek) recently wrote a blog post for Edutopia that highlighted some of the concrete things happening with technology in BHS classrooms.

Finally, here are just a few of the many comments that visitors have e-mailed me after their visits to BHS that indicate to me that we are on the right track.
  • Thanks for spending the morning with us explaining what is going on at BHS, the value of digital education, and the tour through the building.  You may have noticed my eyes turning green!  What a fabulous group of kids - loved the responses of the students particularly in the Spanish 4 class.  I simply do not know how you can afford the time to do this but it certainly was a great inspirational experience for me. 
  • My group came away with many thoughts, great enthusiasm, things to look into and consider, and real admiration for you and your staff for taking a risk and letting us learn from it. 
  • I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for welcoming us to your school district last Thursday.  I thoroughly enjoyed our visit and learning more about your ipad implementation.  While I have had a vision of this in our own district for some time, there are skeptics here.  It was very to see how this plays out within a school district, to see them excited and get them thinking about all this opens up for our students.  There are so many benefits to a program such as yours - the collaborative efforts around curriculum development as a byproduct is also very exciting. I came home even more excited after seeing it all at work. Thank you again - I wish you and your district the very best with your technology initiatives and look forward to hearing many good things about the Burlington Public Schools in the future. 
  • You and our staff were patient and honest answering our many questions. We gained valuable insight about your school. Also, a special thanks to the teachers and students who allowed us to observe their classes. This information will be most helpful as we continue to explore the possibility of becoming a 1:1 school. 
  • I just wanted to thank you for providing the technology conference yesterday.  Your school is a terrific model for the way technology can be integrated into the classroom and the school culture.  I wish the best for you, your awesome staff, and model students now and in the future. 
  • We, the visiting team of teachers, just presented to our full faculty yesterday about our discoveries and it was great to hear them talk about what they took from our visit.  Among other things, we are implementing "Help Desk" next Semester, and pushing for kids to have their own iTunes accounts as well. 
  • I'm very appreciated to see another 1:1 in action, hear your thoughts on technology in education, as well as visit with your students and teachers.thanks again for a wonderful visit.

Anyway, here's a partial list of the schools, districts, and other parties that have come through thus far:
Mt. GreylockGraftonBarnstableNarragansett (RI)ReadingBlackstone-Millville Regional, PittsfieldIpswichWakefieldLynnfieldGreater LawrenceBillericaBishop Hendricken (RI)EDCO Tech DirectorsHamden Academy (ME)Wilmington High SchoolSt. Mary’s (Simsbury, CT)Boston MagazineNatick, Belmont Hill, PittsfieldNewtonExeter-West Greenwich (RI)Killingly (CT), Hollis-Brookline (NH)Forman School (CT)Hamilton-WenhamMarian High School, WatertownWhitinsville Christian School, Phillips Andover AcademyBurlington High School (VT)Blue Ribbon Schools ConferenceMelrose High Lynnfield HighEast Greewich (RI)Exeter (NH)Uxbridge High SchoolHaverhill, Lowell Catholic

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