The last week of school! Or, at least the last week until summer classes, enrichment programs, internships, and other activities begin. To think that schooling ends on a date certain—whether the end of a school year or a graduation—is simple misperception. Well over 150 of our educators will be engaged in workshops, retreats, curriculum development seminars, new sheltered immersion language training, among a host of other professional development opportunities.
This past year has been certainly successful and exciting. The coming school year looks to be equally promising with innovations of instruction throughout the system. The new elementary mathematics series will come on board the first day in September. There will be new scheduling at the middle school along with an exciting upper grades science program. The high school will continue to see the American Studies iPad program along with freshman classes piloting innovative instructional techniques that exploit the resources of the electronic informational world while honing student skills of organization and judgment.
I especially wish to thank Belmont’s educators for their faithful implementation of the new evaluation system, the Belmont Education Association for helping adapt the system for years to come, and the students who have strived diligently and successfully to grow emotionally, socially, and intellectually.
The Foundation for Belmont Education has just announced a new, major partnership with the Belmont Public Schools to inspire and to implement innovative instruction. The partnership entails a four-year, $450,000 campaign that will enhance not only teaching practices that make use of content available electronically; but, as important, the initiative will support exploration of teaching strategies that promise improved student engagement and improve development of students’ 21st century skills. For example, Belmont educators may work with experienced web-based instructors to investigate and to pilot various and exciting ways of accessing web-based content. Another possibility: Teachers would develop project-based learning that would not necessarily be at all dependent on technology. The partnership is thoroughly consonant with the district’s strategic goal to provide “support for educators to experiment and innovate” to the end that instruction ensures that “students will be well-prepared for college and career” in this the 21st century.
In addition to the professional development necessary for the research and designing of improved instructional models, the partnership will also provide the district means to ensure in time that every student might have the electronic tools which allow access to ever more current and richer content. The technology-based learning tools may be instruments students already have and wish to use. Through funds raised through the FBE, the district will provide students the option of receiving on loan an appropriate iPad should families so wish. The variety of proposed innovation projects involve the full school system—pre-kindergarten through high school
In accord with the press release issued by the Foundation for Belmont Education, this innovative teaching initiative “expands on the FEB’s successful Technology Tools for Teaching campaign (2008-2011), which was the first step in creating 21st century classrooms through SMART Board installations.” The Foundation will help support the cost of instruments for the 8th and 9th grade initiatives. As part of incremental work with high school students, we will be asking rising 9th graders if they and their parents wish to use department-issued instruments or their own devices. Middle school students engaged with the 8th grade science pilot will use classroom sets of iPads.