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Tech’ed Out By: Meghan Thompson

We know the modern classroom no longer thrives on information-packed lectures to students (sometimes struggling to pay attention). Instead, schools use technology to supplement curriculums and make learning a more interactive experience. But just how much technology does your child encounter in the school day? We took a look inside the classrooms of Baltimore County Public Schools to get an idea.

Laptops
All BCPS students are equipped with laptops for everyday use. Incorporating laptops into the classroom is the primary fixture of BCPS’s blended-learning approach, which uses technology to enhance the curriculum, says Ryan Imbriale, executive director of BCPS’s innovative learning department. Students can use their laptops to log onto BCPS’s digital learning ecosystem, BCPS One, which provides them with teacher-vetted resources that might correspond with a lesson or homework assignment while supplementing in-class material.

What’s a Wixie?
Collaborative software tools can bring students together on a digital platform to create something visual as a team, whether it is a presentation, video or a digital poster. Applications like Wixie give students an opportunity to work on a project together on their own laptops and then share it with their classmates, who can view and interact with the project on the big screen. Instead of cramming five students’ ideas onto one poster, they can create an interactive presentation that is less complex than PowerPoint but more engaging than a poster board.

Coding Curriculums
Students as young as kindergarteners are learning to code and to develop an understanding of how programming allows them to create from their keyboards. LEGO robotics club is just one example of where students can explore computational thinking and watch their digital commands create action in the physical world — and, of course, make robots.

Mobile Innovation Lab

In 2016, BCPS launched its Mobile Innovation Lab, a makerspace for students housed in an old school bus that travels among elementary schools. The lab features a 3D printer, a computerized cutting machine, mini-drones, LEGOs and robots for student experimentation. The sleek black bus looks as futuristic as the technology it holds.

Do kids still have textbooks?
Yes, but no more chunky textbooks and unreasonably heavy backpacks. While BCPS students still have access to paper books and magazines in their libraries, more options are available to students in e-book format. One of the biggest advantages of digital materials is the accessibility features that they come with. Though print textbooks are still used in the classroom, online libraries provide expansive access to endless resources on a public-school budget.

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Washington FAMILY Staff

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