Will Bowler STudents Be READy to Compete?
You've heard the old adage: "You get out of life what you put into it," as the video above shows, our children are growing up in a vastly different world than we did. In order for students to become successful in the 21st century they will need work harder than we did in school and develop personalize skills that help them to become lifelong learners.
The Federal government has issued a call for all school districts to integrate as much technology as possible into our curriculum. Our children will compete for jobs not just on a local or national level but also on a global level. They will compete with others from all over the world. Schools as well as families have a vitally important job of preparing our nation’s youth to lead safe, fulfilling, productive lives while encouraging them to develop a strong personal work ethic and sense of responsibility towards expanding and valuing their own education.
One way schools do this is to provide students with the tools and direction needed to develop 21st century skills. School districts around the world are trying to prepare students for future employment and the responsibility of citizenship by integrating new technologies into constantly changing curriculum. It’s a tough problem for schools as technology is continuously improving and school budgets are becoming leaner and tighter. The Bowler School District is no different. We are working diligently towards providing students with the technology tools they need to develop future technological skills and competencies. We have been lucky that federal and state grants have provided the bulk of funding for our technology upgrades. Our teachers are integrating the use of these technologies into assignments and expectations for our students. Let’s describe what some of these technologies tools and expectations are:
Technology Tools & Expectations:
Bandwidth: Growth in this area has been imperative for our district. As more and more activity takes place on our network. limited bandwidth has slowed our network during the last four years, sometimes down to a crawl. We started out with 3 Mbps (megabytes per second) and increased to 5 Mbps the 1st year, 10 Mbps the 2nd year, 20 Mbps the 3rd year and this past year we increased to 100 Mbps!!!
Network Routers & Switches: In 2008 we upgraded all our network (ethernet) closets. We have replaced all switches & routers and combined or purchased new servers.
Internet Router: Our ISP is WISCNET. They provide internet access for our school. WISCNET is housed on the University of Wisconsin Madison campus. They provide at reduce cost, through federal eRate funds our internet access, filters, bandwidth, and internet/network support. Our current internet router is capable of reaching 100 mbps if it is needed.
Wiring: Our Category 5 ethernet wiring is old. At the time it was installed in 1995, it was considered leading edge technology in both internet and network wiring. Our school being very progressive at that time and had installed a minimum of two ethernet ports in each classroom, but today that is no where near enough network and internet access for a classroom. Classrooms today contain mini-computer labs, SmartBoards, iPads, iPods, and various other technologies all needing either ethernet or internet access. This has led to an abundance of mini-switch boxes added to already filled classroom ports that have other appliances (classroom computers, wireless hubs, and other classroom technologies) daisy chained off of it. All this hardware, multiplied by the number of classrooms, has congested network traffic and slowed internet access speeds.
Wireless: As new technologies were added over time, more and more of them came with both wireless and ethernet access. Hoping to take advantage of this, the Bowler School District slowly started to add wireless routers to all elementary, middle school and high school hallways. We have coverage for most of the school though some areas have weak spots. Wireless is not as fast as ethernet but in today's age with so many wireless technologies it is important to have both options ready for our students.
Network Printers & Copiers & Scanners: We have at least one or two network laser printers for each hallway. They are located in a classroom where the teacher doesn’t mind others coming in and out to pick up print jobs. Teachers can also print from their computers to the copiers in the teacher’s workroom/office. These copiers also scan, so if a teacher needs a digital copy of something they only have to scan it on the copier and then have the copier email it to them.
Electronic Grading System & Report Cards: We are starting our 4th year of using Skyward’s Electronic Grading System- We are still working towards improving participation with parent and student access.
21st Century Classrooms: Our classrooms have been updated with new technologies. This started six years ago with teachers receiving a new computer on their desk. This was important as we were about to integrate a new grading program called Skyward. This program was online and the teachers needed the internet to access it. All classrooms have ethernet and wireless access.
In order to help students who are hard of hearing or who become distracted easily we have installed an audio system in each classroom. With new “online” programs, increased bandwidth, upgraded student computers and the installation of SmartBoards, our classrooms have become 21st century ready.
Teacher Computers: All teachers have an Intel iMac on their desk. These computers are networked, have internet access, and are easy to use and update. We are going on our 7th year with them and they still work well. We will look at updating them in 2012-13
Smart table, SmartBoards: The elementary has installed a SmartBoard in every classroom. The Early Childhood/Pre-School room also has a SmartTable. To best describe SmartBoards and see why they have become great teaching tools please click on the following link: http://yt.cl.nr/0U05WeXPGlk or view the video below.
Mini-computer labs in every classroom: The district classrooms have mini-computer labs. A mini-lab ranges anywhere from 3 to 10 student computers. These computers have both network and internet access along with a myriad of educational and subscription applications.
Two computer labs in elementary: WTR/ILS Lab & Elementary MacLab: The Elementary Computer lab seats 32 students. Each e-Mac computer accesses the internet and network and utilizes two Macintosh operating systems: OS 9.2, and OS 10.5. We have many OS 9 educational programs that still are valuable learning applications along with our new network applications for OS 10. Our WTR/ILS Lab is set up to seat 32 students. Two primary software applications are used in this lab. The first is called “SuccessMaker” this software is an Integrated Learning System application that offers the core learning students need with 6,000 of standards-based reading/language arts, mathematics, and English language development/ESL curriculum. It also provides cross content learning, with science and social studies lessons incorporated into the math and reading curriculum.
Openbook Emergent Literacy Program:
Two computer labs in Middle School/High School: e2020 Lab & MS/HS MacLab: The MS/HS MacLab is located off the HS Library. This lab holds 30 Intel iMacs. We chose iMacs because of their versatility. Student projects range from PhotoShop to multimedia projects utilizing Garageband, iMovie, MediaBlender and of course the old standby PowerPoint and MS Word. Students use the lab to complete assignments, research, or learn new applications.
Tech Ed CAD Lab: Our Tech Ed CAD Lab is located in the Tech Ed Classroom. Students use this lab to investigate building concepts and design with engineering software. We currently use AutoCAD which offers students an excellent introduction to computer aided design projects. This course is available to HS students wishing to earn Technical College credits.
Robotics Learning Lab: Mrs. Fehrman applied for a State of Wisconsin STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) grant. Her grant proposal was to develop a robotics program at Bowler. It is located in her classroom. We are excited we have this new curriculum and look forward to seeing what her students develop in the way of unique projects! This past summer Middle School students were given the opportunity to participate in a summer school course that provided a shorten but valid precursor to future Robotic programs.
Distance Learning Lab (ERVING) : Two summers ago we upgraded our Distance Learning Lab (Embarrass River Valley Instructional Network Group) with a grant provided by the USDA Rural Development Utilities Services. We were able to replace decade old equipment with High Definition Televisions, video cameras and portable DLN units. We installed four CAD ready work stations, new microphones, and teacher console. With this upgraded equipment we continue to offer excellent programing choices: Her Story, Spanish IV, German II, Drafting, Medical Terminology, Media Matters, Sociology, Human Behavior, AP Psychology, Holocaust Literature, and many others. This spring we updated the lab with High Definition video. All classes are now streamed in High Definition.
Polycom DL System Cart: A polycom is a multi-media portable cart, what some of us have nicknamed, “ERVING on Wheels”. The carts, custom designed for the ERVING schools allow for maximum flexibility and ease of use, is located in our Elementary Library. Staff can bring the distance learning capabilities right into their classroom without traveling to their high school. This type of technology opens the door for a variety of virtual field trips from providers around the world, or even intra and inter-district collaboration.
Skyward: Skyward is a software company specializing in K-12 administrative software packages used in schools to manage and store information pertaining to Student Management, Human Resources, Financial Management, Food Service and Special Education. They are a provider of this type of software to over 1,300 K-12 school districts worldwide. Teachers use the program to take attendance, provide parents with instant access to grades, scores, and other data that reveal a student’s academic progress.
Lightspeed-Infrared sound systems: Classroom audio technology has been used effectively to enhance listening and learning environments for more than 20 years. The primary goal of Classroom audio technology is to provide a high level of speech intelligibility and to evenly distribute sound throughout the classroom. Research, validated by the U.S. Department of Education, is clear, consistent and conclusive....all students benefit from classroom audio technology.
Alexandria Library Automation & Digital Books:
Lexile levels indicate the reading level both for items and students. Many schools have implemented Lexile leveling in order to track the progress, and to improve the reading skills of their students. For schools using Lexile leveling, it is critical for the library automation system to support Lexiles. Alexandria is the library automation solution for implementing a truly beneficial Lexile strategy—no other library system can compete!
Helping students read on the right book level is a snap!
Elmo Visual Presenters: The Bowler School District has purchased several Elmo Visual Projectors. These projectors are different from older overhead projector models in that they can display 3-D objects, and they do not need transparencies. They can display documents from the computer or real objects from under the camera. The main purpose of an Elmo™ projector is to display documents and other objects that are not translucent -- in other words, documents that are not made with transparencies. These documents require a video camera and projection lens in order to work properly. The Elmo™ camera is usually digital. However, they are able to display more than just documents. In many cases, they can be used to display three-dimensional objects as well, though they will be rendered in two dimensions on the screen. The thought behind the Elmo™ projector is similar to that the overhead projector, which came into widespread use during the 1980s and continued through the 1990s. Such projectors were useful in making materials available to a wide audience in a classroom or group setting, but could only display documents put on transparent material. While duplication to transparencies is easily done, it required an additional step. Further, three-dimensional objects could not be displayed. They would instead be rendered as a black shadow in the area where they were blocking light from passing through.
Student Response Systems: Bowler School District has 32 SMART PE Response systems with two wireless receivers. With SMART Response, teachers have a new and interesting learning tool to help develop tests, surveys, games, lessons and presentations. Teachers gain accurate and immediate insight into student learning with the SMART Response PE interactive response system, designed for K–12 classrooms. The system combines wireless remotes (or clickers), a receiver and powerful assessment software, so you can create planned or spontaneous quizzes and instantly tally responses. And with SMART Notebook™ collaborative learning software, you can add interactive and multimedia content to your assessments, making them more engaging.
Classroom digital cameras and video cameras: All Elementary classrooms have access to a digital camera or videocam. These cameras are used on field trips, for virtual story telling, classroom news and webpage uploads. A digital camera gives the teacher the ability to show what is happening in his/her classroom and parents have a digital visual of what their child’s day is like in school. Teachers use digital cameras for student memory books, art & writing assignments along with many other curriculum projects.
School Webpage: As of the 2009-10 school year we have developed a new Bowler School District Website. This website is much more dynamic in form and allows teachers, administrators, and staff access to their own webpage to upload photos, documents, and information as they see appropriate. The district webpage is a work in process. Staff is continually looking to improve parent and community communication. Please come back often to see what changes have been made and also to learn more about what is happening in the district.
Moodle: (abbreviation for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) is a free and open-source e-learning software platform, also known as a Course Management System, Learning Management System or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Moodle was originally developed by Martin Dougiamas to help educators create online courses with a focus on interaction and collaborative construction of content, and is in continual evolution. It has become very popular among educators around the world as a tool for creating online dynamic web sites for their students. During the 2009-10 school year Bowler School District in conjunction with the Marion and Tigerton School District applied for an EETT Grant. The grant proposed that our three school districts collaborate together by installing a Moodle server that all three districts would use. The grant also involved training of teachers, administrators and staff on the benefits and uses of Moodle. Moodle allows teachers to create an online learning site where students can access homework assignments, classroom notes, videos, and other materials that are considered vital for learning course objectives. Students can discuss course assignments, blog, take quizzes, tests, and upload homework assignments to their teacher’s moodle website. Moodle courseware is continually evolving. As teachers and staff continue to use this software they will find that it is very similar to other online courseware on the web.