BELLFLOWER — A technology revolution is sweeping through Bellflower Unified, with hundreds of teachers accessing summer training, thousands of students using touchpads and laptops daily and even administrators creating Google Classrooms for their own collaborative efforts.
“Our goal is to make technology a seamless part of the Bellflower Unified educational experience,” said Dr. Brian Jacobs, BUSD Superintendent. “First, students learn to use the tools; then, they use the tools to learn in ways that strengthen critical thinking, boost collaboration and leverage the vast resources of the Internet to expand their understanding of key concepts.”
The District underscored its ambitious approach to improving classroom technology this summer, when a BUSD leadership team attended a two-day technology summit and took the U.S. Department of Education’s Future Ready District Pledge. The pledge signifies the District’s intent to ensure all students have access to the latest technological tools and instruction.
“The pledge is a strong, public statement recognizing our District’s dedication to integrating the best available classroom technology to benefit our students,” Jacobs said.
Bellflower Unified’s technology revolution began several years ago, when the BUSD began rewiring schools for high-speed Internet. By the start of the 2015-16 academic year, all Bellflower Unified classrooms were equipped with projector-and-whiteboard setups, document cameras and touchpads that allow teachers to operate their systems from anywhere in the room.
Thousands of laptops and touchpads have also been purchased for use daily by students, achieving a 4:1 ratio of students to devices. Elementary school device numbers doubled between fall 2014 and 2015, and the high schools launched a Bring Your Own Device pilot effort.
To make it all work, the District has provided teachers with extensive summer training led by pioneering peers who modeled how they integrate technology into their lessons. The sessions drew more than 140 teachers – about a quarter of all BUSD teachers.
At the center of the tech revolution is Director of Academic Accountability Dina Hernandez, former principal of Bellflower’s Thomas Jefferson Elementary. Since her time as a principal, Hernandez has modeled classroom technology by using it in her own work – creating a low-pressure, but encouraging environment where teachers feel free to experiment with the new tools.
“It’s important that our teachers see that we are using these same tools in our daily work – facing the same learning curve and challenges as we adapt to new collaborative options,” Hernandez said.
“We’re all traveling down this road, but we don’t expect everyone to go at the same pace or use precisely the same tools. Different tools will be more effective for different teachers, just as it’s always been,” she said. “The important thing is that they approach it with the same excitement for learning that they are communicating daily to our students.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Electronic device purchases across Bellflower Unified have boosted the number of tools available to students. Here’s where the District stands today with devices:
- 1,500-plus: Laptops
- 504: Projectors and document cameras
- 504: Touchpads for teacher use
- 2,000-plus: Touchpads for use by secondary students
- 20: Carts of 34 touchpads each for use by elementary students
TECH 1: Mayfair Middle School students react as their Revolutionary War answers shift their rankings on a leaderboard displayed on a classroom whiteboard. Teacher Daniel Fong operates the electronic testing system from a touchpad at the back of the room.
TECH 2: Woodruff Elementary teacher Steve Van Noord checks in with a second-grader who is working on math problems on a touchpad.
TECH 3: A Woodruff Elementary second-grader plays a math game on his touchpad.
TECH 4: A Woodruff Elementary School fifth-grader uses a stylus to calculate a math problem on his touchpad. Teacher Keri Menebroker displays student work on her whiteboard at the end of each exercise.
TECH 5: Second-graders in Woodruff Elementary teacher Frieda Tyne-Fernandes’ class mark answers to reading questions on a whiteboard at the front of the room, and then share their knowledge with the class.