Funding to help bridge elementary, middle school learning
As one of nine school systems to receive a grant through Maryland’s 2014 Digital Learning Innovation Fund, Baltimore County Public Schools will use its $300,000 grant for bridge-building – extending the digital learning experience for children as they move from elementary to middle school.
The grant, part of $3.5 million awarded statewide by Gov. Martin O’Malley, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and State Superintendent Dr. Lillian Lowery, is designed to help school systems use new and emerging technologies to improve teaching and learning. BCPS also won a grant last year – the first year the funding was awarded – and used it to inaugurate the system’s 10 “Lighthouse Schools” pilot project for 1:1 digital instruction.
“Fully integrating digital instruction into our schools must be part of our mission if we are to make sure our graduates are well prepared to be globally competitive,” said BCPS Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance. “We are fortunate to have state leaders who understand the new nature of education and who place a priority on enhancing our schools to meet educational requirements for today and tomorrow. We appreciate their support and funding.”
BCPS embarked this school year on beginning the transformation of the state’s third-largest school system into a fully digital learning environment through a variety of initiatives collectively known as S.T.A.T. – Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow. The program includes extensive teacher training, a “Lighthouse Schools” pilot that provides digital devices for students in Grade 4, and teacher to use and the BCPS One information system for students, parents, and educators.
This year’s grant will be used to help Grade 5 students from Mays Chapel Elementary School – one of the system’s Lighthouse Schools – transition their digital learning to either Cockeysville or Ridgely middle schools. It will pay for training Grade 6 mathematics teachers to incorporate personal, differentiated learning and assessments using digital devices in their instruction. Teachers will receive both the devices and instruction prior to the start of the 2015-16 school year.
“We want our students to take ownership of their learning. As a result of this grant, students will have customized lesson plans when they enter sixth grade, which will help them to become stronger partners in their own learning process,” said Kristin Anelli, Director of Innovative Learning Projects for BCPS. “All the tools will be in place for them to hit the ground running when they begin sixth grade.”