New $1.7 million program will bring all of Lindbergh’s classrooms into 21st century

Prop R 2008 providing funds to implement LINC program.

By MIKE ANTHONY

A more than $1.7 million program designed to bring all of Lindbergh Schools’ classrooms into the 21st century recently was approved by the Board of Education.

The Lindbergh INteractive Classroom, or LINC, program will be a “massive” undertaking, according to Superintendent Jim Simpson.

In a memo to the school board, Simpson wrote, “The interactive classroom led by a teacher who is highly skilled in the use of technology to increase student learning is the new standard nationwide. LINC is the program that can rapidly move Lindbergh Schools to this new standard.

“This proposed program designed by the in-house team trains all Lindbergh core classroom teachers in the use of interactive technology in the classroom. Further, this program instills in each of those core classrooms interactive technology equipment the teacher will use to enhance instruction.

“In short, LINC will move this district from our present stage of being behind in this critical area to a leader in the region,” the superintendent wrote.

Funding for the $1,736,480 LINC program is coming from Proposition R 2008, a $31 million bond issue approved by voters in November 2008. Cost savings realized from Prop R 2008 bids coming in less than originally estimated also will go toward the LINC program.

The board had placed Proposition R 2008 on the ballot with the goal of providing a long-term solution to space concerns at Sperreng Middle School. While Sperreng will remain a sixth- through eighth-grade middle school, Prop R funds will be used to convert Truman Elementary School to a sixth- through eighth-grade middle school.

Besides the Crestwood and Long additions, Prop R will fund the conversion of Concord School, which currently houses the district’s Early Childhood Education program, into an elementary school, and the construction of a new ECE building next to the district’s Administration Building at 4900 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

Proposition R 2008 also was designed to create new, modern classrooms outfitted with the latest interactive tools, according to Simpson.

Twenty of Lindbergh’s 370 classrooms currently are equipped with white boards and projectors for interactive instruction.

Equipment in the remaining 350 classrooms will be installed by a full-time employee over the next three years.

In addition, the LINC program calls for training the district’s core-subject teachers to Enhancing Lindbergh’s Instructional Technology Education, or ELITE, III standards — the highest level of technology training a Lindbergh teacher can earn.

ELITE I and ELITE II help teachers be-come successful users of technology and apply those skills toward instruction while ELITE III focuses on helping them apply technology in an environment where students also use interactive tools to create in-formation and contribute to the lessons.

The district currently has 28 ELITE III teachers, 155 ELITE II teachers and 187 with no training. While the district currently has one ELITE trainer, the approved LINC plan calls for reassigning two classroom teachers as additional ELITE trainers to work one on one with core teachers over the next three years to help them achieve ELITE III status. Specialist teachers would be trained to achieve ELITE III status by 2013-2014.

In three years, all of Lindbergh’s classrooms will meet the standards for 21st century teaching, according to Simpson.

“… The classrooms we’re building in these Prop R ’08 buildings are all going to be built to today’s standards,” he told the Call. “But that leaves all these other classrooms in last century’s standards. So that doesn’t seem to be the best position for students to go into some classrooms and say: Wow, my teacher has the interactive tools they need and the training they need to make my learning much more effective. But then they go to another part of an older building and they say: Well, this classroom doesn’t have any of that. So we want a total standard that goes across the entire district.

“It’s actually a good time for the LINC program. We have the funds through Prop R. We also have the technology and curriculum and instruction departments at a good stage to undertake this project,” he said. “And it is a massive project. When you consider that we are going to be training over 300 teachers to ELITE III standards, which is a very high standard and skills for using digital tools to increase student achievement and to improve the effectiveness of teaching and when you consider that every one of those over 300 rooms has to be up to a standard, that it really is a pervasive program.”

The interactive classroom will provide the opportunity to make learning come alive for students, Simpson said.

“The interactive classroom is one in which a teacher has the tools through the ability of the Internet and through software enhancements to really bring learning to life …,” he said, citing as an example a teacher discussing World War II’s D-Day with students.

“.. Well, let’s just look at the first news clip of D-Day. We’re talking about D-Day, let’s just look at that. Boom. It comes immediately to the screen and then the students see that,” he said. “The teacher can stop it at any point and say: Let’s talk about this. But now, let’s get interactive. We want the class to participate. Let’s talk about if you were the general of D-Day, what would you do? And then all of sudden, the students from their desk can work with drawing maps … So all of a sudden, it be-comes a very interactive situation …”

And the possibilities are endless, he said.

“We can put that student right in the moment and it doesn’t stop there. It has endless directions … Let’s talk to students in another part of the country or the world up on the screen and let’s see what they think about that because maybe people in another part of the world didn’t really see it the way we saw it …,” Simpson said.

In addition, an interactive classroom allows a teacher’s lesson to be recorded and placed on that teacher’s website so students can view it later.

“With an interactive classroom, a teacher actually has a wireless microphone lanyard around their neck and what they say is being recorded and what they’re showing or putting on the board is being recorded in real time,” Simpson said. “And that then is going on the teacher’s website for the students or the parents to see at home that night.

“But that’s just the archival aspect of it. You can see your lesson any time. If you’ve missed a part, you can go back and look at it,” he said, noting it provides the ability for a parent to help a child with homework by revisiting the lesson.

The interactive classroom will enhance student achievement, Simpson said.

“… We think that we can enhance student learning somewhere close to 20 percent and we’re already a leader in student achievement. But we think we can push this right to the boundary of what is possible in student achievement,” he said.