Blake Middle School believes in a living mission statement, based on the concept that our community seeks and respects knowledge, integrity, character, wisdom, and the willingness to adapt to a continually evolving world.
Will you account for the goals of the community?
Will you learn to recognize the indicators of a strong, positive character?
Will you know how it feels when you do the right thing?
Will you know how to emulate the admirable traits of your peers?
Will you know how to be the peer your peers choose to emulate?
Overview of Blake’s Technology Implementation
In conjunction with our increased implementation of mobile devices in our schools, we are committed to making thoughtful, informed decisions and using our guiding compass throughout has been to employ educational technology tools that meet the varied needs of all of our students, enhance student learning and the educational experience, and foster the professional growth of our staff. Our hope is to foster students’ executive functioning skills and growth, complex communication, creativity, critical thinking, and opportunities to collaborate with one another.
Mobile Learning Initiative Background
A significant element of our work has been the implementation of a uniform, school-wide platform of mobile devices in the classrooms. In many school districts, the iPad has become a preferred educational tool for a wide variety of reasons: flexibility, portability, and engagement, to name a few. Many possibilities exist for integration with online and cloud-based tools such as slideshows, podcasts, whiteboards, videos, and e-books. The iPad offers specific apps like Explain Everything, Garageband, iMovie, and Notability that also allow for Universal Design for Learning. The iPad's multi-media functionality provides the forum for students to interface with text, images, and videos, as well as the vehicle for teachers to differentiate their instruction for all learners while also utilizing cross-disciplinary tools for executive functioning support.
During the 2012-2013 academic year, we explored the potential benefit of these devices by having the 8th Grade Stars cluster participate in a yearlong pilot program. The pilot study was implemented to allow our teachers and staff to thoughtfully implement and review the effectiveness of the iPads, while assessing their feasibility and impact on a smaller scale before any full-scale changes are put in place. After a successful pilot, we expanded the implementation of a 1:1 iPad program for the entire 8th grade for the 2013-2014 academic year, with students purchasing their own iPads or taking part in a 'Lease to Own' program through the school. To give us some comparision with tablet devices, we were fortunate to also explore the potential benefit of Google's Nexus 10 tablets with our 6th grade Koalas cluster of students and teachers in a yearlong pilot program that same year.
The feedback we gained from these pilots served as a critical factor for both the school and district's future implementation and direction we will take with technology. We established the following as benchmarks or evaluative measures for determining the efficacy of the pilots/initiatives and the devices: organization, access to presentation and learning tools, collaboration in and out of the classroom, communication between student and teacher, and the fluid adaptation with new ways to ‘learn and do’. Through classroom observations, professional development, informal and formal feedback from parents and students, and staff input, we were able to determine that the iPad Initiative was highly effective and worth continuing our collective work with iPads for the 2014-2015 academic year for our all students (6th-8th grade) at Blake Middle School.
We have continued our assessment cycle of the initiative and are planning our work for the 2015-2016 academic year as we build upon the foundation that has been laid with our 1:1 iPad program for all students. Please refer to our Participation Options for details. We are committed to providing an equitable learning experience for our students and appreciate the shared commitment and investment in the education of our students.
While these technological advances have offered many potential benefits to our curriculum and education here at Blake, at the heart of our work we have remained mindful that they do not 'replace' or serve as a substitute for excellent teaching. Our goal and efforts have been centered around the belief that they serve as a vehicle to enhance the practices that have been in place. A key component of our work with all of our students has been our Digital Citizenry curricula - the modeling of the responsible use and implementation of technology, always keeping in mind the ethical and safety issues that are inherent in these endeavors. Students have also followed the same curriculum frameworks and common core Blake curricula.
To assure and maintain classroom consistency and device management, and stay true to the guiding principles of our pilot program, we are currently not permitting students to bring other mobile devices (non-iPads) into Blake Middle School. At this point in the educational landscape for schools, it is our belief is that the iPad is the preferred device to maximize the benefits of learning, creativity, and curricular integration for our students and staff. We are excited about this opportunity and look forward to sharing our findings, progress, and developments. - Principal, Nat Vaughn
2017-18 School Year
This 2017-28 school year starts the second year of the full 1:1 iPad implementation for our entire school (grades 6-8). Our district is also in the second year in being a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) school district. Watch the video to learn how Blake is integrating and transforming learning with the iPad and GAFE from our own special educator, Michael Heafitz.