In 2013, faculty at John Barry were realizing that while technology was ubiquitous in the school, it was being used in ways that were not always meaningful. So, they launched a Problem of Practice in which they asked, "How can we use technology in a more meaningful way?" This led them to blended learning.
The model has expanded each year, starting in 2013, when technology was being used simply to supplement instruction, to now, when technology is used as a primary content delivery system.
John Barry faculty are working through problems with hardware. Because they are an Extended Learning Time school, the Chromebooks they use tend to fade toward the end of the day. They have learned to be diligent about keeping the Chromebooks charged and ready.
Privacy laws around technology have also changed such that the school has had to switch curriculum tools occasionally because of changing regulations.
Faculty also note that helping kids to learn to be responsible was a challenge. Understanding the limits of student freedom is important in a blended model, and students have to know that they are being monitored, even when they are on computers.
Lastly, monitoring student technology use so that their activity remains appropriate is sometimes a challenge for teachers.
John Barry faculty advise that you make sure teachers feel comfortable with technology. If teachers feel apprehensive, they note, kids won't feel confident.
Furthermore, in order to promote teacher buy-in, administrators recommend helping teachers to understand why you are using this model and to provide a plan that supports teacher comfort. For example, you might provide a list of other teachers they can turn to for support and/or a list of online resources and videos that teachers can watch to become more familiar with the technology.
Lastly, Principal Crispino notes that adults need to be open to change. He says, "To move from teacher-centered to student-centered requires you to let go. Doing 'more' looks different now than it used to."
John Barry uses an innovated Tech Buddy model, in which older students help younger students develop competency with technology.
John Barry also takes pride in its level of student engagement since the change to blended learning.
Lastly, the school demonstrates leadership in its level of collaboration among teachers. All teachers have common planning time once per week so that they can collaborate with one another and use one another as resources. "We don't want to reinvent the wheel," one teacher notes.
John Barry Elementary School is a K-5 school in Meriden, CT.
The mission of John Barry Elementary School is to provide our community a place of acceptance. All who join the John Barry family are supported, ensured safety and are provided a well rounded, differentiated learning experience. The professionals at John Barry are driven to meet the needs of all students and maximize their potential as individuals. Our goal is to continuously empower all members of the John Barry family to thrive inside and outside of the Barry walls. “The Barry Way” has created a community that respects being safe, responsible and respectful. We will continue to surpass academic goals while supporting personal growth.
Contact: Daniel Crispino
Contact Title: Principal
John Barry Elementary School
124 Columbia St.
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