As the Connecticut Supreme Court weighs his future in Bridgeport, Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas hasn’t exactly taken a low profile. In recent weeks he’s been seen at groundbreakings for new school construction, announcing an $11 million federal magnet school grant, a $1 million school security grant from the state and hosting school-based community meetings. Today he issued this news release touting “New Chromebooks for Every High School Student, Smart Boards in Every Grade 4-8 Classroom, New Computers for All Teacher and Administrators.” News release from Vallas:
Superintendent Paul G. Vallas today announced that Chromebooks for every student have been installed in Bridgeport high schools as the district completes its citywide technology upgrade. The upgrade includes 5,220 new Google Chromebooks to ensure every high school student has laptop access, 230 new Smart boards and projectors outfitting every grade 4-8 classroom, and upgraded computers for every teacher and administrator. This morning, as part of his school visits, Superintendent Vallas joined students at Harding High School for a demonstration of how the new Chromebooks impact their classroom experience.
“The great value of this new technology is that it creates possibilities for teaching and learning that Bridgeport students and teachers have never had before,” said Vallas. “The upgrade provides resources that will build teacher practice while empowering students to develop skills they will need when they enter a modern, technology-based workforce.”
The initiative to modernize Bridgeport’s classrooms began last spring and targeted the areas of most significant need: upgrades to teacher and administrator desktops, dramatically expanding classroom use of Smart boards, and providing one-to-one computer access for all high school students. The technology upgrades were made possible thanks to the district’s partnership with the City of Bridgeport. The entire technology initiative was funded with unspent City technology bond money and did not reduce school staff or resource budgets.
BPS finished replacing every outdated teacher and administrator desktop–a total of 1,480 computers–this fall. By the end of October, all grade 4-8 classrooms will have a Smart board or equivalent technology, an addition of 230 new Smart boards. BPS is also continuing to work to provide Smart boards in classrooms that currently do not have one at Bassick and Harding High Schools. More comprehensive renovations are planned for Central High School that will include installation of Smart boards.
To achieve one-to-one computer access for all high school students, Chromebook computers were purchased for every student at Bassick, Harding, and Central High School–a total of 5,220 student computers. The Fairchild Wheeler capital design included technology access for each student. Through implementation of the Chromebooks, students have the ability to work collaboratively on projects through document sharing that allows team members and teachers to provide real time feedback on student work.
In order to support the technology investment, BPS’s Information Technology team has upgraded network and WiFi systems at each of the high schools. Additionally, Google Apps for Education accounts are now available for all teachers and staff in order to fully operationalize the benefits of using online technology in the classroom. Teachers were invited to Chromebook trainings that began in August and are scheduled throughout December in order to learn how to optimize the new technology in the classroom. The IT and Data teams will provide teachers and staff with support as the upgraded technology is deployed.
At today’s demonstration, Harding High School teacher Ms. Amanda Palmer demonstrated the power of real time work submission. Students were sent work assignments ahead of time, which they completed through seeking information on line, and electronically submitted the completed work to Ms. Palmer. The exercise not only builds the content knowledge, but mimics the way that work sharing occurs in the modern workplace and builds computer skills.