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Student working in labIt's A Wild Ride - Using Workspaces

"With a block schedule we are afforded multiple ways to use our classrooms and workspaces." Theresa Maves

Flexible Workspaces
Students meet in their scheduled classrooms, but depending on the activity, may move to one of the other classrooms. If the day's activities call for the use of computers, students may use a computer lab, the Media Center, or the six computers in the language arts classroom. The block schedule provides the time necessary to allow student movement, as well as access to the team's three classrooms, allowing for multiple workspaces.

Daily Block Schedule
Primetime- 8:20-8:37
Block 1/5 - 8:41-10:06
Block 2/6 - 10:10-11:35
Block 3/7 - 11:39-1:31 (Planning Time - Red Days)
Block 4/8 - 1:35-3:00 (Planning Time - White Days)

School Map and Classroom Panoramas

"It would be impossible to accomplish all this without technology. Whether we are number crunching or running simulations, making predictions or organizing information and examining results, technology is the key. Technology enables students to manage more complex problems that have genuine meaning. Students can link up with true experts and become involved with the actual process of problem solving with meaning and rigor."Meile Harris


The Albertson Lab
The Albertson Lab

The Media Center's lab
The Media Center's lab.

Computers in a language arts classroom
Each language arts classroom has six computers.

Technology Access
At O'Leary there are three main rooms where students can access networked computers. Teachers must schedule their use in advance.

The Albertson's Lab, provided to O'Leary through a major grant from the Albertson's Foundation, measuring 9 x 9 meters, contains 25 networked computers and a teaching station. Computers are arranged in groups on seven tables. It includes two printers (HPLaserJet 600 and Tectronics color printer). There are two CD writers and one scanner. Videoconferencing equipment, an Elmo, and a Smartboard are also in the room. Two digital cameras, one digital video camera, and one set of probeware for CBLs complete the technology available to teachers and students.

There is also a computer lab in Building B (the team's classrooms are all located in Building A). It contains 25 networked computers with two printers. This lab is not used as frequently by the team due to its location, but students have access to it for completing classwork.

The library, located near Jill's classroom, also supports 25 computers linked to the Internet. The library media specialist supports student work, and provides guidance in research and information literacy skills.

Each classroom contains at least one computer, used by teachers for presentations, group demonstrations by students, and individual student work. Language arts classrooms contain six computers, as well as 25 Alpha Smart keyboards.

Girl on computer
Students in the media center

Student Technology Skills
The teachers know that students have basic knowledge and skill with a few areas like word processing and basic Internet searching. They had to allot time, however, to formally walk students through certain processes. For example, Theresa explained how to use Inspiration to build a concept map and add notes. They also needed a demonstration for creating a database record for the roller coaster Web sites and then sorting and searching the database.

"Most students come with some knowledge of word processing and Internet skills. Projects still require formal teaching of technology skills to help students transfer their skills to the content of the project at hand." Theresa Maves

Theresa in lab

All three teachers on the team had reservations, at times, about the inconvenience of technology. There were inevitable delays when something didn't work or a file got lost or an application wouldn't open. Meile found that calibrating the probeware took tremendous patience and care to get accurate readings. Nonetheless, they each had moments of seeing the undeniable value of technology in helping students to really a grasp new concept or show what they understand.

"Technology should help students explore concepts on their own that would otherwise be impossible. Lessons need to give students the flexibility to test their own ideas and validate (or invalidate) their hypotheses. Technology can also best help students organize their new learning into creative presentations that all students can learn from. This level of processing is often entirely missing from most curriculums and yet it is one of the most important tasks students can do to cement their new knowledge."Theresa Maves

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