Beaverton students logging into the future
Scholls Heights Elementary is one of district's first 'Future Ready' schools
Scholls Heights Elementary School first-grader Brooklyn Klug chose a high little voice when she wanted to give words to the penguin featured on a presentation she created with one of the schools new Apple iPads.
Im a baby Emerald penguin, the voice squeaked as Brooklyn gave a gap-toothed grin.
Its cute like that one, she said, pointing to a fluffy penguin hatchling on the tablet computers screen. We got to make three penguin reports and we got to choose the one we thought was most good.
Her classmate, Ethan Ihde, decided that his own penguin report would detail the animal species in the birds diets for one simple reason: Because I wanted to have a picture of a squid.
Were laying the groundwork in the first grade, said their teacher, Karen Wold. They learn so much faster than we do.
Scholls Heights is one of the Beaverton School Districts 'Future Ready' schools launched in this pilot year. Those first 15 schools hired new library instructional technology teachers (LITTs) and committed to weaving technology more strongly into how teaching and learning happens in their buildings.
With the 2016-17 school year, the districts remaining 40 schools including traditional and options programs also will begin taking steps to adopt the Future Ready model.
Elsewhere at Scholls Heights, fifth-graders used their newly assigned Google Chromebooks for more sophisticated tasks, including research projects about explorers and salmon life cycles.
Now they have encyclopedias, they have the Internet, they have a number of resources at their fingertips, said Carrie Kunert, the schools LITT.
Ella Irving, for example, used a voice-over program to narrate the report she wrote for their Diary of a Salmon assignment. She included pictures detailing the stages of development for the fish.
Ella said having the Chromebooks at their desks for the past few weeks has been far more useful than trying to find time in the schools computer lab, which in the past was often unavailable because it was being used by other classes or students taking tests.
Theyre a lot more helpful in the classroom, she said of the new Chromebooks.
Theyre very motivated and they learn so fast, said Mehreen Krueger, Ellas teacher. Weve used many of the little gadgets here, but theyre always for a purpose.
Krueger said fifth-graders will enter middle school next year better prepared as upper grades further integrate technology with their lessons.
Its fun and I think its easier to do things with school work, said fifth-grader Claire Hansen, who is a member of the Digi-Knights, the schools technology club, which helps other Scholls Heights students learn about technology through games and robots. It can help us when were older.
The students showed off their budding technological prowess during the schools recent science fair, where parents checked out coding robots that help teach students basic programming and fiddled around in the Maker Space, where first-time engineers can solve problems, Kunert said.
At Scholls Heights, the district purchased enough Chromebooks to assign one to every fourth- and fifth-grader (and the schools parent group added money to buy enough for third-grade classrooms) while younger students share iPads.
Parents of students at Future Ready schools also can log in from home computers or smartphones to see what their children are learning. And parents who arent up on the latest tech have been invited to get a bit of tutoring of their own, Kunert said.
BSD's Future Ready rollout
Districtwide, more than 8,900 Chromebooks and about 2,200 iPads were delivered to the 15 Future Ready pilot schools in recent weeks to better bring technology into classrooms instead of the old model that largely confined computers to a lab.
The program cost about $6.5 million in equipment, new LITT positions and district-wide professional development for the 2015-16 school year, according to John Peplinski, the administrator who oversees instructional innovation.
Pending budget approvals, the district plans to continue rolling out the Future Ready program to all schools over the coming two years.
For 2016-17, the district plans to hire another 11 LITTs for the remainder of the district's traditional middle and high schools.
Also during the next year, all district students in grades eight through 12 will be assigned a Chromebook.
Additional technology will reach all schools next year, but it will be limited at lower grades. A larger rollout of Chromebooks and iPads for younger students is planned for 2017-18, Peplinski said.
Also that year, the rest of the elementary schools are expected to hire LITTs, he said.