When Superintendent S. Dallas Dance announced plans to launch an instructional digital conversion during his 2013 State of the Schools address, the sound of curious chatter overtook Baltimore County.
“Will robots replace our teachers?” asked one student to another. “Will the ‘Word of the Day’ give way to the ‘Tweet of the Day’?” wondered one teacher to a colleague. “What will we do now with the 78 boxes of chalk that we found in storage?” fretted one principal to an assistant administrator.
Luckily, answers to those questions soon followed: robots would not greet students at schoolhouse doors, the “Word of the Day” would remain part of the morning drill, and chalkboards would still serve an important role in classroom lessons. In fact, the changes in store concerned revamped curricula to accommodate for new, one-to-one computing devices in the hands of every Baltimore County Public Schools student. Their curiosity satisfied, Team BCPS members became eager to start the conversion.
Now, one year after the initial announcement and weeks away from the start of the 2014-2015 school year, interest in and enthusiasm about Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow (S.T.A.T.) have reached a fever pitch. Kelley McVicker, staff development teacher at “Lighthouse School” Chase Elementary, shares her excitement about the conversion in an interview with Blake Lubinski, intern in the Department of Communications and Community Outreach.
Blake Lubinski: “What was your reaction to your school becoming one of 10 Lighthouse Schools?”
Kelley McVicker: “I was extremely excited to hear that my school was chosen to be a Lighthouse School.”
BL: “How have you begun preparing for the S.T.A.T. initiative?”
KM: “Personally, I am participating in multiple professional development opportunities as both a S.T.A.T. teacher as well as a staff member of a Lighthouse School.”
BL: “Thus far, how have your curriculum and lesson plans changed to reflect the transition to digital learning environments?”
KM: “Access to curriculum has changed tremendously because we are able to tap into all subjects digitally via BCPS One. Planning lessons has changed because we are focusing on ways to infuse technology into our instruction making the lesson much more engaging for all students.”
BL: “What challenges have you faced in the transition up until now?”
KM: “A challenge for me personally is being patient in that I want to put into use all the wonderful things that I am learning, but there are just not enough hours in the day! I believe teachers worry about all the things that might go wrong with the technology in the middle of a lesson. But we just have to remember that this is a period for trial and error and some growing pains.”
BL: “What part of the transition most excites you?”
KM: “I can’t wait to see how engaged and excited the students are when using the new technology during student-centered activities.”
BL: “Overall, how do you feel about being part of this experience?”
KM: “I am really enjoying my position and can’t wait to work further with Discovery Education in this process!”
For more information on S.T.A.T., the Lighthouse Schools, BCPS One and other components of the move to digital learning in BCPS, visit http://www.bcps.org/academics/stat/.