21st Century Technology for the 21st Century
Kenmore Middle School is a very diverse school. Over 55% of our students receive free and/or reduced lunch. 60 % come from homes where English is a second language. Our enrollment is currently 725 students in grades 6-8. We are located just outside of Washington, D.C. in Arlington County, Virginia. Kenmore is Arlingtonâ€™s Arts and Communications Technology focus school. Essentially, that means that we integrate the use of arts and communications technology into the teaching of the standard middle school curriculum. Parents and students from anywhere in the county can apply to take advantage of the teaching methodology utilized at Kenmore Middle School. Transportation is provided for those students that live over 1.5 miles away from the school. We are fully accredited as determined by the schoolâ€™s performance on the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) exams and the Southern Association of Colleges and schools (SACS) accreditation process.
As a public middle school, finding the financial resources to acquire all of the necessary hardware and software can be challenging. Any support that a private organization can provide will be well worth the investment, greatly appreciated and will be used solely to advance the academic and social development of the students, parents and staff for whom it is being provided.
This paper provides an overview of some of the hardware and software that will provide that will enable Kenmore to bring to full fruition the goals established ten years ago, when it was determined that the school would be an arts and communications technology focus school.
Audio Enhancement Systems
During the 2004-2005 school year we will pilot an audio enhancement system. This is a system where teachers wear a wireless microphone that transmits an infrared signal to a receiver in the classroom. This system eliminates sound drop off by delivering evenly amplified sound quality to the entire classroom through ceiling mounted speakers. A great deal of what students learn is done by listening. Recent research studies indicate that classroom acoustics may be more critical to student achievement than previously assumed. This system is being praised by educators in the few classrooms and schools across the country where it is being used.
Each student at Kenmore will need his/her own laptop/notebook computers. This may be the most aggressive and most expensive of the initiatives that are critical to reaching our goal of providing 21st Century Technology for the 21st Century. However, the outcome in student achievement, parental involvement and student engagement, coupled with a decrease in cost of textbooks and supplementary materials will make the project more than worthwhile. There are a number of schools and school districts across the country that equips students with this invaluable tool. This tool is the link to some of the other components of the plan.
Access to the information highway opens up endless opportunities for accessing information. Many of our textbooks are available on line or have on line services. The student grading system that we currently use, Synergy, has the infrastructure to make grades available online. Parents should review student progress regularly. Programs like blackboard, google classroom and iTunesU enable parents and students to find out what assignments are due.
Safety and Security Systems and Measures
We should install security cameras so that we are able to monitor the building at all times in order to ensure the highest level of security. Kenmore is currently used most evenings and weekends and measures need to be taken to be certain that we are able to provide a safe and secure environment at all times. There is technology available that would allow us to install times sensitive access. In order to enter specific parts of the building, an individual would have to have an access card. An administrator predetermines the level or degree of access. These Smart ID cards can also serve as student library cards, lunch card, attendance card, and identification and student locator cards. A recent research report from the National Institute of Justice entitled The Appropriate and effective Use of Security Technologies in U.S. Schools provides non-technical and non-vendor specific information on security products. Many schools and school districts across this country are cutting back on arts education in response to The No Child Left Behind Legislation. This legislation is forcing schools and districts to choose between arts programs and core subjects. Kenmore is nowhere near making those kinds of concessions
Kenmore continues to view the integration of arts education as integral and essential to our success as a middle school. The use and integration of the arts in the delivery of curriculum helps to meet the diverse learners in our schools. All schools are diverse. Those that are homogeneous in their racial and cultural makeup are no less diverse than those that are homogeneous in their social economic structure. The most important aspect of our diversity comes as a result of the uniqueness that each of us is born with. Couple that with the aforementioned environmental factors and we find ourselves even more different. Schools are a place where we can and must blend our differences into a cohesive web that allows for harmonious interaction that leads to stimulating investigation and cooperative work that results in academic, social, spiritual, physical and emotional growth. The arts provide that universal language by which we can express ourselves, interpret our understandings, explore the world and gain new understandings that stick with us because the arts allow for a personal connection that each of us can find meaning in. Kenmore continues to pursue integrating the arts because it fosters a high level of thinking, learning and teaching. We embarked on this journey in 1995. As we approach the tenth year anniversary we can be proud of our accomplishments.