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Windsor Mill Middle School students shine at Night of Innovation

21st Century Tech Tools Merged with Traditional Instruction

Ruth Young Tyler | 1/22/2016, noon
For eleven-year-old sixth-graders Avante Morgan, Temitope Peters, Victor Chongwa and 10-year old Rianna Davis, using their school-issued HP Elitebook Revolve ...
Sixth-grade students at Windsor Mill Middle School (left to right) Avante Morgan, Temitope Peters, Rianna Davis, and Victor Chongwa holding their school-issued HP Elitebook Revolve hybrid laptops with Sonja Jackson, (back row, left) Language Arts Department Chair; and six grade reading teacher Philip Macek (back row, right) at the Night of Innovation on December 3, 2015. (Courtesy Photo)

For eleven-year-old sixth-graders Avante Morgan, Temitope Peters, Victor Chongwa and 10-year old Rianna Davis, using their school-issued HP Elitebook Revolve hybrid laptops has become as easy as their traditional textbooks. Infusing technology with traditional educational tools, the Windsor Mill Middle School (WMMS) scholars are embracing change and excelling in their core subjects.

“It’s no longer about the students sitting in rows and columns-sitting still and listening to the teacher talk for 60 to 90 minutes,” said Harvey Chamber, principal of Windsor Mill Middle School. “Students are now facilitators and in charge of their own learning.”

In partnership with Discovery Education and McGraw Hill, Windsor Mill Middle School (WMMS) hosted a Night of Innovation on December 3, 2015 where more than 13 demonstrations were conducted throughout the school to spotlight the impending technological advancements that will occur in all Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS). Part of (S.T.A.T) Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow- the digital instructional and conversion, WMMS is one of 17 Lighthouse Schools within BCPS that will implement the change.

More than 30 trained student leaders escorted parents and guests around the school and served as hosts during breakout sessions. One student served as a reporter and conducted live interviews on the video-streaming app Periscope.

Sherri Jones, the mother of sixth grader Kiersten Jones, appreciates the online learning piece at WMMS that her daughter has embraced. Kiersten was initially apprehensive about attending a new school but once she arrived and saw all of the technology, her excitement increased. Kiersten said learning is fun since she started attending WMMS.

“She loves it,” said Sherri Jones. “The students have math every day and Kiersten is now in the G.T. [gifted and talented] class, which was not the case prior to attending WMMS.”

“Students are reading more, even if it is online,” said Jones. “And that’s a good thing.”

Ryan Imbriale, executive director of Innovative Learning at BCPS is focused on the goal while helping to guide the new program.

“What it boils down to from a pedagogical and mastery standpoint, teachers are the critical glue that holds mastery in the classroom,” said Imbriale.

Imbriale noted that teachers are able to benefit from the knowledge that tech-savvy students bring to the classroom. Educators should take advantage of those students who are able to problem-solve, as it pertains to the use of the technology.

“Overall, it’s a win-win situation,” said Imbriale.

The early evaluation results show that the students are more engaged, which translates into a higher level of collaboration and communication. There is a balance between using paper and pencil and the use of the device. At WMMS, access to digital learning provides real-time information, 3D modeling, science experiments and the ability to connect with others from around the world.

“This is about ensuring every student graduates globally and are competitive,” said Imbriale.

When students are engaged and excited about coming to school, there is a decrease in disciplinary issues and personalized learning is enhanced, according to Imbriale.

Principal Chambers is keenly aware of the area’s changing demographics. He noted WMMS is more of a suburban-urban school.