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Entries Tagged as 'Digital Learners'

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-08-07

August 7th, 2011 · No Comments

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Tags: Digital Learners

Comcast Offers Discounted Internet Access to Low Income Families

August 7th, 2011 · 3 Comments

A new program from Comcast offering $10 a month Internet access to low income families may be of interest to you. Here’s a link to an NPR story about this plan.

Here’s the contact information for the plan:

Tags: Digital Learners · Parent

A Letter to New Teachers: Wisdom for All

August 3rd, 2011 · No Comments

As I catch up on my summer reading,  I found an inspirational April blog post by Ryan Bretag.  In this post, he provides advice to new teachers that I believe is great advice for all of us.  Here’s a snippet of what he says:

Open the World to Your Students and Open Your Students to  the World
Linking technology, engagement, and learners with powerful instruction is a must in the 21st Century. Do it! Don’t be afraid.

… Keep Your Values of Choice, Community, Discovery, and Play Intact These four unlock the door to engagement and passion-driven learning environment. Live by these and bring these to all you do. Your scholars will grow in all facets of life because of the relationship you form around these values. Don’t let the push to tell you “what and how to teach” ever change this about you. Have fun! Teaching and learning are fun!

If you are interested in reading the post in its entirety, click here: Ryan’s commentary on the centrality of student engagement in classrooms is  spot on!

Tags: Digital Learners · Teaching and Learning

Bedford High School Teachers Participate in Special Project with Burlington and Andover

June 28th, 2011 · No Comments

With the start of summer break, a cohort of Bedford High School teachers joined colleagues from Burlington and Andover as we begin a regional effort to develop online curriculum and textbooks.  Teachers have participated in mini-workshops with Apple to learn ePublishing and other applications as preparation for our iPad initiative.

The work we are beginning is already well underway in the state of Virginia.   Researchers from the Virginia Department of Education have documented their success in developing student centered  digital classrooms of the future using  1:1 devices such as iPads as classroom tools for all students.  If you are interested in reading this report, click here:

Tags: Digital Learners · Parent · Teaching and Learning

1:1 Initiatives in Bedford

June 15th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Last evening the Bedford School Committee approved the lease purchase agreement for the iPad2 Pilot Project at Bedford High School.  This morning the Bedford Education Association approved the funding for an iPad2 Project at the Lane School.  This is very exciting news on the educational front as we begin to transform our classrooms to more Personalized Learning Environments for students.  As we move in this direction, we are focused on developing learners as critical and creative thinkers able to  find information, make informed decisions about content and create new content using the sophisticated digital tools we have placed at their fingertips.  In Bedford we have a talented faculty that is eager to create this new learning environment where teachers and students have the opportunity to  engage in even more powerful learning partnerships.

The state of Iowa has blazed the 1:1 path for us; in September, they will   have 100 schools with 1:1 initiatives in place.  The Iowa Independent recently penned an article on that state’s efforts to change the learning environment.  If you are interested in reading about their work, click here:

One-to-one Schools ‘Step through the Looking Glass

(Sent from [ ]Flipboard)

Tags: Digital Learners · Teaching and Learning

Why Are We Thinking About an iPad2 Pilot for Bedford High School?

April 25th, 2011 · 21 Comments


The notion of moving our classrooms to a 1:1 Program is something we have been thinking about for more than two years.  As a district, the 2010-2011 Netbook Pilot at Lane School represented our first classroom implementation.  That pilot program has helped us identify the limitations of this device.  As part of our exploration this past school year, we have looked to 1:1 initiatives in other districts at both the middle and high school level.  While some might question the need to move from mobile labs to a 1:1 model, it is important to recognize that the lab model has limitations in terms of both the time to boot up all the devices and the limited access time.  With the new tablet technology, we now have the opportunity to harness Internet resources 24/7. The opportunity to do so is and will continue to change the landscape in terms of student engagement and instructional design both in and beyond the classroom.

The state of Maine 1:1 initiative has been in place for a decade.  Here’s what we have learned from the Yarmouth Maine 1:1 Laptop initiative that was instituted in 2001:

Equipment Purchase and Management:

  • Laptops are funded using a four year lease
  • State provides of Maine provides $286 annually for each student for technology
  • The district has 2000 computers for 1500 kids
  • The computers have required minimal repairs
  • Technology is central to the teaching and learning environment
  • Students are used as trainers for the annual fall roll out
  • In 8 years, only two laptops have been stolen

Teaching and Learning:

  • Teachers are able to individualize (differentiate) instruction.
  • Teachers are very comfortable learning from students
  • Class time is devoted to discussion and problem solving
  • Students are very engaged

In January 2011, the Millis Public Schools  implemented an iPad Pilot for the entire eighth grade.  To begin the implementation, the district installed 40 Apps on each tablet.  As reported by the middle school principal, the pilot has resulted in the following:

  • The learning environment has evolved to one characterized by more Personalized Learning
  • Student engagement significant and characterized by learning extending beyond the school day, Teachers report that there is not wasted time in class.
  • Teachers are using a Blended Learning model.
  • It’s about effective teaching
  • Kids do their work on the iPad and send it to teachers via email and google docs
  • Some teachers post evening hours noting when they will be online to chat with students

Specifications:  Why the iPad2?

Our instructional technology staff has been piloting various tablet devices during the 2010-2011 school year.  They have examined the capacity of laptops, iPads, and  Droids to help us understand which device makes the most sense for our initial venture into a 1:1 world.

  1. 24/7 Access:  This pilot proposal is designed  to supply each student with ready access to technology on a 1:1 basis 24×7.  The iPad2 fits that need the best of any available device at this time.
  2. Comparative Devices: The technology staff has spent the last year looking at various devices.  We already have laptops in house and a 1:1 pilot with Netbooks for comparison.  They have tested a Droid based tablet for comparison and looked at the iPad extensively.
  3. Battery Life: The iPad2 is very portable and provides 10 hours of uninterrupted use.  Laptops only give a few hours. Netbooks have similar battery life similar to the iPad.
  4. Apps: iPads offer a wide variety of Apps including the ability to use word processing, spreadsheet , presentation software, and web based resources.  The availability of apps for education is significant. The range of Apps enables the staff not only to access a wide range of resources for the whole class but also to individualize learning and address diverse needs more quickly and “in the moment” avoiding the delay and obvious differentiation that often makes students feel different.
  5. Built in camera/movie camera: Some Netbooks also have a built in camera, but the format of the device makes it hard to use.  Netbooks do not have the horse power to run video editing programs.  Speed and ease of iMovie on the iPad2 make it feasible to create short video projects in a fraction of the time with laptops.
  6. Durability – The iPad has  no moving parts to break
  7. Procurement of Apps/software:  Unlike Droid, Apple has a system whereby we can purchase Apps without a credit card.  This is not possible on Droid based units.  The Apple Volume Purchase system already setup to give us 50% discount on apps purchased in quantities of 20 or more.
  8. Access to FirstClass & Aspen – Droid based tablets have very limited access to FirstClass.  No app, can’t use web based version.  Only access is through stripped down web version.  Aspen doesn’t work correctly in Droid based browsers – works well on iPad.
  9. Maintenance: Unlike laptops, which require significant staff support, the technology staff can safely allow students and teachers to install apps on iPads.  With no moving parts, we would not have as many hardware failures.  Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions are available to ease delivery of apps and to manage volume purchase and licensing.  No MDM solution is currently available on a Droid tablet.

Will the iPad2 Meet all of Our Technology Needs?

  1. Limitations:  At this time, we do not see the iPad as a replacement for all of our technology.  There are several things we do with technology now that the iPad cannot do now  (VoiceThread, large movie creation, Foreign Language Lab, Drafting, Art Lab etc.)  We still see the need for teachers, even as students have  iPads,  needing to access laptop carts and labs on a limited basis. While we predict a reduction in the need for the laptops and labs, we still see some need for them.
  2. Paperless Environment:  It is hard to predict how much, but we would expect we would see a reduction of paper use as teachers would deliver material electronically.
  3. Ink/Toner: Along with paper, we would expect to see a reduction in ink and toner usage as well as copier toner as teachers move to electronic delivery of material to the students.  Students would submit more and more material electronically.
  4. Graphing Calculators There is a graphing calculator app
  5. Laptop Reductions – We would expect to see a reduction in laptop cart usage with the 1:1.  Once we can establish the reduction, we could lower our replacement rate as we take carts off line.
  6. Music Midi Lab – There is potential for the Music Midi Lab at the high school to see less need with the iPad2.  Some of the classes they teach could possibly use Garage Band and other apps.  It is unclear that this could be a direct replacement.  We see it more as an augmentation at this time.
  7. Reduced lab usage – Along with the laptop carts, we would expect to see a reduction in the use of some of the computer labs.  It is hard to quantify, like the laptop carts.  Once we  establish a pattern of usage, we could move to a reduction in this area allowing for the  potential to allow space to be free for other uses.
  8. Electricity - With students required to charge the iPad 2 at home, we would see little increase in our electrical needs.  If laptop carts and labs came off line, we would expect a decrease in electrical needs.
  9. Textbook Replacement Plan – This is the most obvious cost avoidance in using the iPad since iPads can access any electronic text book that we already have access to on PCs.

    Tags: Community · Digital Learners · Teaching and Learning

    1:1 Pilot Proposed for Bedford High School

    April 4th, 2011 · 1 Comment

    Tomorrow night’s Bedford School Committee meeting will include a presentation and discussion of a proposal for a 1:1 Pilot Program using the iPad2 with  next year’s ninth graders.  Today’s release of the Speak Up 2010 report on parent and student opinions about the use of technology in schools is very timely.

    Key findings from the Executive Summary:

    • 67 percent of parents said they would purchase a mobile device for their child to use for schoolwork if the school allowed it, and 61 percent said they liked the idea of students using mobile devices to access online textbooks.
    • 53 percent of middle and high school students reported that the inability to use cell phones, smart phones or MP3 players was the largest obstacle when using technology in school. Additionally, 71 percent of high school students and 62 percent of middle school students said that the number one way schools could make it easier to use technology would be to allow greater access to the digital content and resources that Internet firewalls and school filters blocked.
    • Parents are increasingly supportive of online textbooks. Two-thirds of parents view online textbooks as a good investment to enhance student achievement compared to 21 percent in 2008. However, E-textbooks are still a relatively novel concept in the classroom. Slightly over one-third of high school students report they are currently using an online textbook or other online curriculum as part of their regular schoolwork.
  1. Nearly 30 percent of high school students have experienced some type of online learning.
  2. Here’s a link to the report:

    Tags: Digital Learners · Teaching and Learning

    Congratulations to BHS Artists

    February 22nd, 2011 · No Comments

    Congratulations to our  Bedford High School artists who have won 3 Gold Keys,  5 Silver Keys and 12 Honorable Mentions in this year’s Boston Globe Scholastic Art Exhibit.

    Gold Key recipients include:  Jack Heimann,  Brandy Reed and Amy Singer. Silver Key recipients include:  Anne Greene,  Shea Kuhl, Shaylynn McGrory, Justin Smith and Maddy Werth. Honorable Mention award recipients include:   Meredith Brady,  Pei-Yun Chu , Lindsey Currier,  Martin Goldschmidt,  Anne Greene, Jaclyn Hayes,  Erica Hsiung,  Adrienne Silver,  Natalia Soares, Maria Tiano,  and Alex Winkler.

    Two seniors: Joe Kim and Sally Waters won Gold Keys for their Photography Portfolios.

    Tags: Community · Digital Learners · Teaching and Learning

    Personalized Student Learning

    November 12th, 2010 · No Comments

    As we begin to explore the 1:1 initiative and the possibilities of virtual offerings in Bedford as vehicles for transforming learning in our classrooms, I was interested to see the following press release from ASCD summarizing a report on System Re-design and Personalized Student Learning.    Here’s  key summary points  from ASCD and its partners:

    “The industrial‐age, assembly‐line educational model – based on fixed time, place, curriculum and pace – is insufficient in today’s society and knowledge‐based economy,” said Gene Wilhoit, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). “Improving student outcomes for all students requires transforming the learning experience to leverage technology, engagement, and the supports each learner needs to ensure they are
    ready for college, career, and citizenship.”

    The Symposium uniquely brought together three key groups – local and state practitioners, national thought leaders, and senior technology executives. They jointly identified the following top essential elements and policy enablers of personalized learning:

    Essential Elements
    1. Flexible, Anytime, Everywhere Learning
    2. Redefine Teacher Role and Expand “Teacher”
    3. Project‐Based, Authentic Learning
    4. Student‐Driven Learning Path
    5. Mastery/Competency‐Based Progression/Pace

    This report will be helpful to all of us as we leverage technology to  transform our classrooms.  If you are interested in reading the entire report, click here:

    Tags: Digital Learners · Teaching and Learning

    Research on High Schools and Online Learning

    October 29th, 2010 · 6 Comments

    Recently Mr. Sills, Mrs. Taymore and I met with a representative from the Virtual High School to discuss the possibility of an online pilot program starting in the summer of 2011.  In our discussion we explored the possibility of offering some online opportunities for high school students including credit recovery in the summer months and a  blended learning course during the school year.    As we work on the possibilities for Bedford High School, I was interested to see that Babson College, via its  Survey Research Group, has just completed a survey, Class Connections: High School Reform and the Role of Online Learning,  of high school principals and their experience with online learning.   Key findings from the Babson survey include:

    • Credit recovery is the most popular type of online course being offered at the secondary level.
    • Urban high schools, which historically have the lowest graduation rates, are embracing online credit recovery as a basic part of their academic offerings.
    • High school administrators consider online elective college-level courses as an effective means for the more able students to begin their college careers.
    • Survey respondents report that offering online and blended courses makes financial sense when trying to meet specific needs for small groups of students.
    • Rural schools are in the vanguard in offering online and blended learning programs to their students—using online courses to overcome significant problems in funding, teacher certification, and small enrollments.

    If you are interested in reading the report in its entirety, click here:

    Tags: Community · Digital Learners · Parent · Teaching and Learning