By AMY BOUNDS
FREDERICK, Colo. (AP) _ A film crew spent two recent days in the St. Vrain Valley School District, documenting how the district integrates technology in instruction for a national video project.
The project, with a goal of using videos to mentor school district leadership teams, is part of a U.S. Department of Education technology initiative. About 400 school districts were considered, with 30 districts interviewed and nine selected. St. Vrain was the only district included in Colorado.
St. Vrain also is participating in a regional education technology summit in Denver in June.
“It gave us a chance to spotlight our schools and to reflect on where we’re going,” said Regina Renaldi, a St. Vrain Valley assistant superintendent. “It really is about technology readiness, integration and infrastructure.”
St. Vrain Valley is in the second year of a four-year, $16.5 million federal Race to the Top grant. The grant supports the expansion of STEM _ science, technology, engineering and math _ education in Longmont’s Skyline High School feeder system.
The grant has paid for an Innovation Center, where students and local businesses collaborate to create applications and prototypes, and expanding Skyline High School’s STEM focus to elementary and middle schools.
The district’s learning technology plan, funded through a 2012 mill levy override, also allocates $2.2 million a year for all students in sixth through 12th grades to have their own iPad minis over the next three school years.
In the fourth year, each elementary classroom will get a set of six iPads for students to share
Along with distributing iPads, St. Vrain’s plan includes updates to computer labs, distributing Chromebook “carts” to schools that will serve as mobile computer labs and updates to classroom desktops.
For the video, the film crew visited 10 schools and district partner IBM and talked to students, parents, teachers and district leadership.
The crew filmed Alpine Elementary students working with robots, Westview Middle School students using iPads to calculate the speed of a watermelon dropped off the roof, high school students working in the Innovation Center and preschoolers at the STEM-focused Spark Discovery preschool.
“It was a nice overview of who we are as a digital community,” Renaldi said.
She said areas of focus were St. Vrain’s collaborative leadership model, professional development for teachers that includes teachers teaching each other and using technology to personalize learning for students.
District challenges, she said, include sustaining programs and keeping up with changing technology.
“We don’t know what the next great thing will be, but we want to keep growing and learning,” she said.