from Educators' eZine
Binghamton City School District
The city of Binghamton is located between Syracuse, NY and Scranton PA. and its Binghamton City School District is the largest in the area. I spoke with Mary Cahill, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, and asked the following questions.
Q: What Software is used at various grade levels?
A: Software is building- and subject-specific. Some examples are: foreign language programs, Compass, digital art, and digital music programs, and a variety of others.
Q: What types of learning environments do you use, for example, mobile carts, classroom computers, computer labs, etc.?
A: There are several computers per classroom for student use.
Each building has at least one computer lab.
Each building has a wireless mobile cart with laptops, DVD player, and projector. Also the district is planning on more Smart Boards throughout the district and Smart Classrooms in the High School.
DIBELS is an assessment tool used in the elementary schools. The teachers who assess with DIBELS are trained on the use of Palm Pilots and enter information as they are testing.
Q: What type of assistive technology do you use?
A: The district has some software programs in use for its special education students, including Kurzweil, Dragon Speak, and books on iPods. It is also developing videotaped lessons for students who need to make up work and for students who would benefit from multiple playbacks.
Q: Has the district developed technology integration curriculum maps?
A: The district does not have a separate technology integration curriculum map. Rather, the idea is to infuse the use of technology into existing maps in each subject area.
Q: What are your funding sources?
A: The technology budget is primarily paid for from within the district budget; however, the district also receives financial support from the Board of Cooperative Educational Services or BOCES, which is a unique New York State program created by the N.Y. State legislature in 1948 to provide educational resources for all districts in the state, especially the more rural districts far from major cities. BOCES offers both teacher training and support services.
Q: What are your teacher-training opportunities?
A: The district provides traditional and nontraditional professional development opportunities. For example, traditional development will come in the form of training on the use of the Smart Boards when they arrive. The district will be hiring a technology specialist through BOCES for on-site training.
Examples of nontraditional development include an online program through Harvard University, and a program called E2T2 in the Middle School. E2T2 is through Binghamton University and it involves pairing middle school students with teachers in order to integrate technology to the fullest.
There is summer training, as well, in the form of Camp WYSIWYG, which computer types know is pronounced "whiz-ee-wig" and which stands for "What You See Is What You Get."
Q: What Works?
A: Access and equity are extremely important issues for the district. Each building has a plan for ensuring access and equity for all students. One way that the district is helping to ensure this is to provide a mix of both classroom and lab computers.
Q: What are some obstacles that the district overcame and how?
A: An obstacle for many schools is creating an accurate and reasonable vision for the future and having the funding to achieve it. The district developed a plan for both updates and upgrades and received additional funding through BOCES.
Q: What are your long-term plans?
A: In addition to the previously mentioned Smart Board and Smart Classroom purchases, and the hiring of a BOCES technology specialist, the district has other plans.
- Easier and better access to data, making it easier to develop reports
- Parent access to student information
- Better intervention and tutoring through technology
Q: What is your biggest wish?
A: For the district to further develop its five-year plan. Because technology develops quickly advanced preparation and the ability to move quickly within a comprehensive plan is very important.