Following news Monday from the Enumclaw School Board meeting that implementation of the voter-approved technology levy has begun in earnest (), Terry Parker, the district's director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, suggested we stop in Wednesday and check out the first wave of staff training at the district office, so that's what we did.
About 20 teachers and school administrators designated as Instructional Technology Facilitators (ITFs), each set up with a newly issued laptop computer for professional use, listened intently as District ITF Bob Kilmer along with an instructor from the company Advanced Classroom Technologies, walked the group through an overview of the technical aspects of the equipment and software.
Kilmer, a Career and Technical Education teacher at Enumclaw High School, said the learning curve isn't too steep, and the bulk of training will actually focus on how teachers can integrate the technology tools into everyday classroom lessons.
As an example, Kilmer offered a quick lesson in architectural nomenclature. A teacher can set up a lesson with terms such as 'footing,' 'foundation,' 'seal' and 'subfloor,' he said. He can point to a particular illustration of one of these items and students, through hand-held response gadgets (they resemble a large Blackberry), can choose what they think is the correct answer. Next question: what are the specifications of that seal? "It's instant feedback," he said, of his students' grasp of concepts.
Whereas in the past, teachers would ask students to raise their hand to answer, this system allows the hesitant or shy student their space while the teacher can still "get their feedback with the safety of anonymity," he said.
Additionally, the new Promethean interactive boards are a step up from the first Smart Boards that some classrooms were fitted with because they allow multiple users to interact at the board. "It's just not a plain, white board anymore," Kilmer said. "A teacher with just the slightest imagination -- the sky's the limit."
While each classroom will be set up with an interactive board, computers, a projector and document camera, the original technology levy did not specify that the response gadgets would also be purchased for each classroom -- at least not in this first phase, Kilmer said. For the time being, they will reside in ITF classrooms only. According to Parker, the next phase will include the response systems as well as an interactive board slate and an enhanced classroom sound system.
Meanwhile, several of the teachers who took part in Wednesday's training were expected to start using the boards in their classes today, Kilmer said. The boards are being installed in all classrooms between now and the end of next week. The ITF group trained Wednesday will then also help to train the rest of the staff at each school. The expectation is that everyone will be trained by June 22 though the equipment won't be ready at Enumclaw High School, Southwood Elementary and Westwood Elementary until August 1 due to there needing to be some electrical work done first.