Monday, December 3, 2018

Batchelder 5th Grade Digital Learning Classes & WIDA ACCESS For ELL Testing Preparation

Michael Callahan - K12 Digital Learning Specialist Blog Update


For those of you who don’t know me yet, I am Michael Callahan, one of the District’s K12 Digital Learning Specialists. I began my K12 career with North Reading Public Schools last year after a number of years supporting Higher Education institutions in Educational Technology roles. With a successful last year, I am excited to see what this year brings . Already the last few months have been full of excitement and have been a great time for new initiatives and planning for the future.

 Let’s take a look at what’s been happening so far:

Batchelder 5th Grade Digital Learning Classes:
Let’s Put Together Computers! 

In October, the Batchelder’s 5th grade students learned how to put together all the major parts of a desktop computer. They were given mice, monitors, keyboards, power cords and USB cables. As a class, we learned about the different pieces, how everything connected, and some of the common areas for major trouble. This was an excellent learning opportunity for the students, as most are all familiar with how to use a desktop computer, but not necessarily how things connect and interact. Even the co-teachers were excited for the students and the value of the lesson; “I thought the idea and practicality of today's DL lesson was great! I wish someone had taught me all of that stuff a long time ago” said Lori Johnson, fifth grade teacher.

Fall Makerspace Challenge 

Batchelder students participated in the Fall Makerspace Challenge. Created by Ms. Nancy Boudreau, first grade teacher, students took the role of farmers trying to get their giant pumpkins into their trucks and trailers for the fair. In this challenge, students had to design and build a machine or system to raise the pumpkin safely off the ground and up to a specific height. It was truly amazing to see all the different ideas among the classes and how groups would approach the task from completely different angles but ultimately came out successful. These types of challenges push the students to think in a variety of different ways as well as allow students to use a variety of skills including executive functioning, analytical thinking, communication, time management, collaboration, and design skills.

 Image provided by Mrs. Borek.

District Wide Initiatives: 

WIDA ACCESS For ELL Testing Preparation 

With district wide testing beginning in January, the last few months have been full of planning and development. Our top priority in supporting our students as they begin testing has been ensuring a smooth and seamless experience. That means organizing and coordinating a number of district technologies, as well as collaborating with a number of district staff including Barbara Fitzgerald, District ELL Coordinator, Daniel Downs, Director of Digital Learning, Nicholas Langford, Network Administrator, and Nan Cook, Data Manager, to ensure our students have exactly what they need.

I am extremely excited to see where this year takes me in support of our students. All the projects, Makerspace Challenges, and district initiatives we support make my role as a K-12 Digital Learning Specialist a varied and ever changing role that I enjoy and find rewarding.

Thank you,
Michael Callahan