Battle Ground Sch. Dist.
Chromebooks a Game Changer for BGPS (Photo)
Deck:The mobile devices foster collaborative learning and help BGPS' administer online state tests to every student in district
Technology, infrastructure, and state testing requirements have come together in Battle Ground Public Schools to create a perfect storm of web-based learning that will hit the district's classrooms beginning next week.
That's when the district's technology department will begin delivering carts filled with Chromebook computers--2,400 in all--to every school in the district. The mobile device looks like a lightweight laptop, except that it is used specifically to work online or in the Cloud through the district's secure network.
The 2,400 Chromebooks will be distributed evenly to primary, middle, and high schools. The Chromebooks are stored in rolling carts that each hold 30 devices and keep them charged. Teachers will be able to reserve and check out the mobile devices.
Students and teachers will use the Chromebooks for collaborative learning projects, and students in third through eighth and eleventh grades will use them to take new state-mandated tests, which are only administered online beginning in the 2014-15 school year. These tests include the new Smarter Balanced Assessments, which are based on the new learning standards that Washington adopted and uses to assess student performance across the state. The Smarter Balanced Assessments measure student progress in the subjects of English language arts and math.
Training is available for teachers who use the devices in their classrooms. One teacher at every school is part of a professional development group called The Academy. Academy members have advanced technology skills and receive additional compensation to train their fellow teachers on how to effectively use technology in the classroom.
At Amboy Middle School, Academy member Melissa Theis teaches English and language arts to seventh graders. Besides using Chromebooks in her classroom for poetry and other projects, students use them to learn the how-tos of having an email account. Theis also uses Google Apps for Education to grade her students' writing papers. She can add comments, how-to videos, or her own voice to a student's document to help them before the rewriting process, enabling them to get a better grade on the final assignment. "My students are learning more than just basic computer skills, they are learning to feel comfortable with technology," Theis said.
Academy member Kayla Verpoorten, a second grade teacher at Tukes Valley Primary, has used iPads, desktop computers, and Chromebooks in her classroom. Last year her students used Chromebooks for an insect research project. Students worked in groups to create presentations in Google apps.
Students then shared a document and helped each other type information about their insect in the online application. Students learned how to insert pictures into their presentations and how to use the Google apps research tool, which let them search the web for information to add to their project. "Student engagement is a huge success when using Chromebooks," Verpoorten said. "The students love using them and put 100 percent into their projects."
One of the central components of the new state learning standards is collaborative learning. Google Apps and Chromebooks are ideally suited for that, said Scott McDaniel, BGPS's Director of Technology. "The Google interface is intuitive, it isn't something that slows you down. You don't have to learn it," he said. "We want kids to work together and create content without those barriers to learning, and this solution helps them do just that."
It took three years for the district to get to this point. When Washington set the deadline by which schools had to implement online testing to this year, BGPS began weighing its options. Three key factors played into the decision to purchase Chromebooks for use with assessment: capability, supportability, and affordability.
A district technology advisory committee comprised of parents, teachers, technical staff, and administrators debated between iPads and Chromebooks for some time, but ultimately the group chose Chromebooks because they offered the best functionality for learning and assessment. At $279 each, the Chromebooks also provided a more affordable solution than iPads or laptops. The district used dedicated levy funds to pay the total cost of the new equipment.
In its discussions, the committee quickly ruled out desktop computers as a possible solution because of space. "We just don't have the physical space to put 30 computers in every classroom," McDaniel said. But that doesn't mean the desktop computers that schools already have will be forgotten. Teachers still use desktops for educational programs in the classroom as well as district email, assessments, and monitoring student progress. "There will always be a need for different kinds of tools," McDaniel said. "The world we live in is about finding the right tool for the job."
The district is transitioning to mobile computing because of an overall technology shift to mobile devices and Cloud or web-based applications on the market. To get ready for this project, the district has built a strong wireless network over the last three years that provides secure, controlled Internet access, as well as a foundation for future growth. "We have a great infrastructure and a great professional development program, and now we have the devices to really advance student learning," McDaniel said.
BGPS Bus Report Update - 09/16/14
This is an updated message about the Monday, September 15 bus safety report. Battle Ground Police Department has issued this statement:
"The Battle Ground Police Department has investigated the alleged report of an unauthorized bus as reported to Battle Ground Public Schools. The investigation confirmed that the bus in question was a school district bus occupied by a new driver and a trainer who were on legitimate business conducting a bus stop exercise."
The information reported to the district by concerned parents prompted the district to notify families to ensure safety and err on the side of caution during the time of the investigation. We would like to thank the community members who reported their suspicions and the quick response of the Battle Ground Police Department. Battle Ground Public Schools puts the safety and security of students at our highest priority.
BGPS Hires Communications Specialist (Photo)
Battle Ground Public Schools announces that it has hired Rita Sanders as its new communications specialist. Her first day was Monday. This is a full-time position in the district office at CASEE. Rita has lived in the district for seven years and brings to the job a range of experience in communications and publishing.
"I've always been so happy that my kids attend school in such a great district," Rita says, "and now I get to shout out about all the good things happening here and support the wonderful people dedicated to our children's education."
Most recently she planned communications for and helped manage the scientific journals of the American Ornithologists' Union and Cooper Ornithological Society. Prior to that she was the executive editor of iPro Developer, a digital and print magazine for software developers. In that role she was responsible for building external relationships with readers and authors and also for managing the content of the publication. Rita began her career as a newspaper reporter at the Corvallis Gazette-Times, where she covered Oregon State University on the higher education beat.
Rita has an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and a master's degree in technical communication with an emphasis on public relations from Colorado State University. Her husband, Todd, is a migratory bird researcher. They have two children who attend Battle Ground schools.
Rita will work with teachers and staff to communicate district and school happenings to parents and the community. She plans to use social media, existing district email newsletters, district phone calls, and other means to get information to parents. "I want to constantly assess the methods we are using to notify parents and the community about district news and what is happening in classrooms to make sure everyone has access to the information they need," she says.
The district will continue to work with the ESD 112's communications team to provide support, including crisis communications, strategic planning, and graphic design and video production.
BGPS' Teachers Benefit from Professional Development Days (Photo)
Captain Strong Primary Teachers
Teachers in Battle Ground Public Schools met this past Wednesday afternoon to start the year's professional development series. The district has scheduled 11 early release days designed for professional development opportunities for teachers and staff. This week's focus was examining student data and work on this year's school improvement plans. Teachers and specialists use collaborative time to identify student needs and create plans to support students' academic success. The remaining professional development early release days will allow administrators, teachers and staff to focus on the implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS), Teacher Principal Evaluation Project, assessments and proven instructional practices.
"The past few years the district has realized that teachers need time to work together and collaborate around the new standards, new testing, and new report cards," said Mark Ross, Battle Ground's assistant superintendent of teaching and learning. "There are a lot of things we are asking teachers to do in addition to assessing student growth and creating goals."
CCSS represents a shift in the teaching of English language arts (writing, reading, listening, and speaking) and math. The standards were designed to ensure that all students are learning what they need to know to graduate from high school prepared for college or a career. The district has been preparing for CCSS over the past several years and will be joining all districts across the state with full implementation this year. Professional development time has been an essential element in preparing for this year's implementation.
The district has asked educators to focus some professional development afternoons on goals and collaboration within their schools, while on other afternoons teachers will come together across grade levels or subjects to share and learn the most effective teaching methods that will increase student achievement. "We want to make sure all teachers have the same understanding of what we expect the kids to know and be able to do," Ross said.
Teachers at Tukes Valley Primary spent the afternoon with their new principal, Jennifer Paulsen, discussing how teaching methods affect student achievement and what teachers can do to increase student achievement. "Teachers did a pre-assessment that told them about where their kids are at," Paulsen said. "Now they're looking deeper at student work to determine students' strengths and weaknesses, and teachers are using that information to plan instruction."
Teachers can also use student assessment data to discover more effective teaching methods. "If one class is doing better than another, then we want to find out why and share those teaching strategies across classrooms," Ross said.
The school district is constantly assessing the need for teacher collaboration and reevaluates the school calendar each year. "We want our teachers in classrooms and students in school, so it's important to determine the most effective balance," Ross said. Additional early release days are scheduled throughout the year for parent-teacher conferences and to monitor student progress and assign grades.
The Battle Ground Public Schools calendar is available on the district website at http://www.battlegroundps.org/about-us/school-calendars
More information about Common Core State Standards is available on the district website at http://www.battlegroundps.org/district/common-core