Teachers teaching teachers

With $20 million in voter-approved “innovation” funds as part of a $576.5 million bond issue, the Boulder Valley School District’s schools were tasked with integrating technology in curricula and rethinking innovative spaces.

Examples include a makerspace, digital music studio and even mobile technology stations.

Each school in the Colorado district received a stipend—from $200,000 for elementary schools to up to $800,000 for high schools.

One school built a distance-learning lab and turned a computer lab into a makerspace, while another school chose mobile furniture to make learning spaces more flexible.

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With the influx of funding came a need for educators and administrators to share ideas to best integrate technology into instruction.

With up to 150 educators already involved in PD cohorts each year, the district was able to utilize that professional learning structure and support for the innovation projects, says Kelly Sain, director of educational technology.

Over two days this past summer, the Innovate@BVSD conference enabled nearly 160 teachers to learn more about new educational tools, share best practices, network for future collaborations and showcase student projects.

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One teacher presented on how technology helped her to increase accessibility of second language curriculum for her students. Teachers also worked in teams to program robots to move and speak, simultaneously sharing ideas about using them in classrooms.

Rethinking use of space has also led to some name changes. The library became the “curiosity center” and classrooms are now called “learning communities” says Kiffany Lychock, director of educational innovation.

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