When we started out, there wasn’t even a strong wifi connection in our building. When one side of the building turned on their SmartBoards, the other side lost wifi. It was kind of comical. When I came on as principal, we did an audit around the technology that Orlo had and the ways teachers and students were using it. We advocated for equipping the building for the twenty-first century and developed a five-year plan for technology integration. Administrators at the district level saw the success of our school and provided Chromebooks in 2016, so that we became a 1:1 school sooner than expected. We were the first elementary school in the district to go 1:1, and now all of the elementary schools in the district are 1:1. I consider our school community pioneers in this work and role models for other school communities in our district.
We have a growth mindset model in our school; if things are difficult, students are expected to take on the challenge and step up. One of the resultant challenges surrounds the question: How do we push students to want to challenge themselves? We don’t want to exhaust students, but we also want student-directed learning to be rigorous and exciting. A lot of our solutions have come through project-based learning. Students are able to design projects and learning experiences that are worth the hard work they put in along the way. We’ve been playing around with badging and goal-setting within project-based learning. We are still working through this challenge, particularly in our older grades.
Remember that it is never about technology and that it is always about engagement and learning. Look at technology as a vehicle to facilitate learning, but not as learning in itself. A computer will never, ever, ever take the place of a teacher, but a teacher using a computer effectively can make amazing things happen. Focus on the educators using technology and make sure that they know its purpose.
Additionally, it is important to encourage and draw out student feedback throughout the process of going blended. Students have a lot to say, and they will tell you how they feel about particular learning experiences. We have changed multiple aspects of our model, including one of our most-used software programs, in response to student feedback.
Our biggest strength as a school comes in student-staff relationships. It is a co-learning, co-facilitated environment, and there is mutual respect within every classroom. Without these relationships, I don’t think that any of our innovation would be possible. Teacher collaboration is a second major strength of our school. There is a lot of sharing of curricular materials and resources. I make sure that teachers have time built into their schedules to observe one another; there is an open-door policy so that teachers can always observe one another’s classes. We know that teaching is about learning from each other, so I always tell Orlo Avenue teachers that the best PD we have is right here.
Orlo Avenue Elementary School serves K-5 students living in East Providence, Rhode Island. The Orlo Learning Community strives to create a safe, respectful, and collaborative learning environment through open lines of communication and clear, high expectations. Stakeholders at the school view blended learning as a tool to empower all learners to direct their own educational experiences.
Orlo Avenue Elementary School
25 Orlo Avenue
East Providence, Rhode Island
In 2014-2015 Rhode Island used the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) to test students in grades 4, 8 and 11 in science. The NECAP is a standards-based test, which means it measures specific skills defined for each grade by the state of Rhode Island. The goal is for all students to score at or above the proficient level.
The 2015 results of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments provide a first look at whether students are meeting the expectations of the new learning standards in literacy and mathematics. These standards are designed to prepare students for success in their next grade level, in postsecondary learning, and in career opportunities.
There are currently no past timeline events for this school.