Bellingham School District and the Art of Designing Education

The world of education is constantly evolving. As a result, it’s difficult to find a system to guide students. Trial and error are often used to discover the best strategy. Everybody grasps new concepts differently but in order to grow, it’s imperative that we all build upon our knowledge.

The new Bellingham Schools District device provided to students. Photo credit: Katauna Loeuy.

The Bellingham School District has introduced a new device to enable students to keep up with the fast pace of technology. This year, Squalicum High School, Options High School and Kulshan Middle School have given their students an HP Probook to claim as their own for educational purposes.

These specific pieces of technology were chosen for a variety of reasons. They can be used with a digital pen for writing or as a laptop for typing papers. The device is a laptop and tablet in one. Lastly, these devices needed to be durable and the Probook has a life of four years.

This device was introduced to students to guide them in this new world of technology. It’s here, it’s moving quickly and students need to learn how to function on these devices. They will enjoy new opportunities as a result. It is especially important for students to become comfortable with this technology in preparation for college. Also, teaching students how to appropriately utilize technology will prepare them for the workforce. These devices are truly remarkable and will create abundant progress in each student’s education.

The HP Probook in laptop mode. Photo credit: Katauna Loeuy.

Along with the addition of the devices, the district changed its schedule for the 2017-2018 school year. Elementary and high school’s starting and ending times switched. Originally elementary schools ran from 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. and high schools from 7:45 a.m. – 2:15 p.m. Now elementary schools begin at 8:00 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m., while high school starts at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 3:15 p.m. The times were exchanged because research has shown that high school students’ brains work better from 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. Elementary school children hold an abundant amount of energy, allowing them to wake up early and learn just as well.

In addition to the time change, Bellingham School District’s high schools have grown from six to eight classes, while also changing to an A/B day schedule. Students have four 90-minute classes each day. This schedule is beneficial to teachers because it allows them to interact with their students for a longer period of time.

Although students have much to gain from these changes, there are also challenges. According to Squalicum High School’s educational technology coach, Alexander Giebelhaus, “The challenges are going to be that students are learning a new device and learning new tools at the same time as staff and there can be lots of things that go wrong, especially with piloting.”

The HP Probook in tablet mode. Photo credit: Katauna Loeuy.

The A/B day schedule causes a time crunch for teachers to relay all of their content. Also, with high schools releasing at 3:15 p.m., athletics and clubs run later so students have less time for homework and sleep. Each problem will be solved one step at a time but so far positive changes in students’ education are apparent. These adjustments are beginning to present their benefits.

Technology and class times may contribute to each student’s learning, however it’s the educators themselves that provide the lessons. Educational staff are very important. Each teacher instills knowledge differently which can help students understand what styles help them comprehend information best. Natylee Nelson, a ninth grade English teacher at Squalicum High School states that she, “really enjoys digging into how people’s brains work and trying to figure out what’s making someone confused.”

Over time, school has been stereotyped as somewhere kids have to be, rather than where they want to be, but education is crucial to developing in life. Attending class shouldn’t be a burden to students but a safe environment for each individual to grow. As humans, we never stop learning. Squalicum High School’s librarian, Tracy Shaw says she still loves, “sticking the right book in a kid’s hands or having a student come back and go on about how awesome the book was.”

Education is rapidly advancing. New elements are being added, while others are being eliminated. Each change is one step closer to securing more student successes. Ultimately, every decision made is to benefit students because this upcoming generation is the future of our world.

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