As a member of the RIDE Data Team, I had the opportunity to visit Pleaseant View Elementary School in Providence on Friday afternoon. Pleasant View was the winner of the RIDE Model School Grant. RIDE has posted an in-depth update on their progress on their new virtual learning site but here are my quick impressions. Pleasant View has 475 students in grades PK (140) through 5. 90% of their students are F/R lunch eligible, 42% receive special education services and 10% are receiving ESL services. They had 10 new teachers this school year and the principal, Dr. Gara Fields, has been there for about 18 months. Dr. Fields reports that student engagement and attendance are up and discipline issues are way down this year.
I, of course, felt that our tremendous Hampden Meadows School effort should have been awarded the grant but it seems that Pleasant View is really doing a great job! Preparation included a high percentage of staff attending Confratute at UConn. This is really an enrichment institute but their focus was on good pedagogy and technology integration. They will be attending again this summer. They have also been working extensively with Highlander Institute and with the RIDE RITTI (can't find link?) program.
· Every classroom has a SmartBoard with attached projector. This was nice but I think the work we observed could have been done with a traditional white board – probably not quite as engagingly.
· Every teacher, PK-5, has a Lenovo laptop and iPad. No docking station.
· Every PK-2 classroom has an additional 4 iPads. Amazing watching PK students – 2 in wheelchairs – completely engaged.
· Every 3-5 classroom has an additional 13 laptops. More will be coming in the second year of the grant.
· Students do not bring technology home but teachers are encouraged to.
Because of the high rate of special education, we observed many classrooms with a co-teacher. The school also has additional instructional support through City Year. In every classroom, we observed highly engaged students and teachers. Our group was big and it didn’t seem like anyone missed a beat. We had the opportunity to talk with one teacher in a common area meeting with her co-teacher reviewing data. She appeared to be a reluctant technologist who was getting used to all of this and really enjoying it – especially having students helping her. When we walked away Dr Fields told us that at the start of school in September this teacher was just returning from two tours in Afghanistan – talk about readjusting.
One interesting note – in the first online assessment that was administered, student performance was way down. They feel this was due to comfort level taking the assessment online. They are going to work on bringing students up to a greater comfort level on this.
Apologies for the long post but I wanted to share my impressions!