April 11, 2018

Enhancing workshop-model classrooms with digital content

Boardworks helps infuse interactive digital content into workshop-model classrooms across an innovative district

 

Under the leadership of Superintendent Chuck Hughes, Hartland Consolidated School District aims to provide a positive environment for the development of lifelong learners. HCS has a history of cooperation between the school and the community dating back to the 1931 Hartland Area Project.

The challenge

At Hartland, teachers did not have access to quality digital and interactive content needed to effectively implement a tech-based workshop model

“As far as our instruction goes, we do a workshop model introduced by Lucy Calkins, which is a strong way to organize a lesson plan. You have a 10 or 15 minute mini-lesson, usually at the SMART Board, where teachers talk about the teaching point for the day. Then after that, students go back to their desks and the rest of the lesson continues with workshops. But that first part, that mini-lesson, is where teachers are using the SMART Board to teach a lesson, or to model different concepts, and we really didn’t have any digital and interactive resources to help our teachers with that.

“Our teachers, for the most part, have been purchasing digital content on their own, or using YouTube, or finding content on Teachers Pay Teachers, or Pinterest… you name it, they are begging, borrowing, and stealing, trying to get little PowerPoints for our lessons. And some of them are not so bad, and some of them are pretty bad—just thrown together by people we don’t know. Teachers are just trying to use the technology in whatever way they can.”

—David Minsker, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction

"These slides are way ­better than anything I have ever seen: the ­interactivity of it, the fact that you can manipulate it easily, it’s ­visually-appealing, it’s kid-friendly..."

David Minsker, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction

The solution

Boardworks provides high-quality interactive content that can be edited and shared across classrooms for greater consistency

“We already have a set curriculum in place and Boardworks is a supplement to that. When we saw Boardworks, we thought it was an opportunity to give our teachers a resource to be able to find PowerPoints and interactive tools that are a lot better prepared than the ones that we have been seeing. Before Boardworks, teachers created or found their own materials, and it’s been a hodgepodge of content. The mini-lessons have been the same across grade level in terms of messages, but as far as the PowerPoints themselves, those have been missing the interactive component.

“With Boardworks, I can see it growing into something where teachers are able to use those slides and have a consistent presentation not just across the grade level, but across buildings and across the district. These slides are way better than anything I have seen: the interactivity of it, the fact that you can manipulate it easily, it’s visually-appealing, it’s kid-friendly... These are features teachers are really going to appreciate.”

—David Minsker, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction

 

Implementation

Boardworks has been easy to implement across the district because of its downloadable PowerPoint format, but principals will ultimately serve as the leaders to ensure usage of the resources

“As we typically do with most of our roll-outs here at Hartland, we decided that we were going to do this thoughtfully and deliberately. We wanted the implementation to come from our principals. Dave and I sat down with our principals and we went through the product – how to install it, the basic components, the fact that it’s in PowerPoint format, and that they or the teachers can edit and customize the slides. I talked through the technical pieces of it, that once they do edit it, they are not going to be saving over the top of anyone else’s download, for example. Then, we left them with the expectation that they were going to go back to their buildings and hold a short training with their teachers. I did say that I myself would be more than willing to work with them should any of their teachers need it, however, it was clear at the end of our meeting that our principals thought implementation would be easy.

“Installing Boardworks is super easy. What we have done to make it even easier is to make every Boardworks resource available on any computer via the Microsoft Software Center. In that tool, I click on the button for the resource I want to download, and then a button appears that says ‘install.’ They click on the button and the resource is installed to their computer. It’s that easy.

“However, as with any material, we are going to do our jobs too. Our principals are going to have to encourage and remind our staff that those tools are there for their use, for example during our curricular newsletter once a month, where we can remind teachers that Boardworks is there and it’s a great supplement for the great things they are already doing in their classrooms.”

—Scott Usher, Director of Technology

"As a former classroom teacher, I am thoroughly impressed with the product, and from a technology side, I am impressed with how easy it is to distribute. I think that it’s a great supplemental resource."

Scott Usher, Director of Technology

Results

Because K-12 resources are available to all teachers in the district, Boardworks will be a powerful tool for differentiation

“Like every school, we try to differentiate within our classroom, but sometimes it is hard to find enough content because you have kids coming in at different levels. If you have a student who let’s say is in fourth grade, but could be doing eighth grade work, the K-12 Boardworks resources being available for all teachers gives us an opportunity to use these slides on the SMART Board for our gifted kids to be doing higher level stuff. This allows us to keep pushing kids.”

—David Minsker, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction

“We are very excited about the flexibility that Boardworks gives us. One of the beautiful things is that all of the resources are available for any teacher in any grade. If middle school resources were only available for middle school, we may have a middle school science kid whose capabilities are way above and beyond their current grade. The cool thing about this is that our teachers have the ability to download the high school Boardworks resources and then start challenging their kids using it. It can be used in the opposite direction for remedial work as well. That’s why I like that the teachers can self-serve and install the software that they want to across any grade.

“As a former classroom teacher, I am thoroughly impressed with the product, and from a technology side, I am impressed with how easy it is to distribute. I think that it’s a great supplemental resource for the classrooms in Hartland.”

—Scott Usher, Director of Technology

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In-school demonstration

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