Technology Instills Confidence and Increases Learning Opportunities
Bloomfield’s special education students in the post-secondary vocational education program (V.E.S.T.) are benefiting from cutting edge technology thanks to a grant from the Bloomfield Educational Foundation (BEF) that provided individual laptops to each student during the past school year.
The Chromebook laptop initiative is at the heart of The Transition Program, a program that services 60 students, ages 18-21, in the district’s Vocational Education Student Training Program (V.E.S.T).
“This program has been the cornerstone of the district’s post-secondary preparation for special education students for the past 30 years and has always striven to keep pace with current practices,” according to Keri Regina, Supervisor of Special Services.
“Current practices involve technology and special education students benefit greatly from technology. Class participation increases because student anxiety of speaking in front of others decreases as students post their answers on-line,” said Regina.
To that end, the Special Education Supervisor made a grant application to the BEF’s Grant Review Committee who approved a grant in the amount of $35,950 to supply a Chromebook to each student in the program.
According to Ms. Regina, the Chromebook initiative has been at the heart of the success of the V.E.S.T. program. So during the past months, representatives from the BEF were invited to visit the V.E.S.T. classes to see the Chromebooks in action.
The first stop was a science class discussing an endangered species, the leopard. Students used their Chromebooks to look up information about the leopard then answer questions posed by Ms. Roszkowski, Science/Vocational Horticulture Teacher. Students “answered” the questions by using their Chromebooks which displayed their answers on the electronic board in front of the classroom rather than the traditional raising of hands. Because this method lessens the anxiety for a student to participate who is anxious about having the wrong answer, the Chromebook method yielded 100% class participation.
The next stop was an American History class where Mr. Clark led a discussion on conflicts in the Colonies. Students used their Chromebooks to take notes and look up facts about this time period. A class discussion included the differences between the Pilgrims using guns as weapons and the Native Americans using axes, and the differences of philosophy on land use. Opinions about land use—Pilgrims said they owned it, Native Americans said they merely lived on it–were shared by the students via Chromebook. Their opinions appeared on the white board from which their teacher engaged them in discussion.
A math class taught by Mr. Gallagher was working on the H&R Block Budget Challenge. Using H&R Block software on their Chromebooks, students simulated pay checks, and paid their household expenses. Some students quickly realized they would have to alter their lifestyle to afford basic food and rent. The next set of lessons was going to include how to file a Federal Tax return, 1040-EZ.
The last stop, an English class led Terry Nevins, was engrossed in a film about Maya Angelou, and her work, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Students used their Chromebooks to find additional works by Ms. Angelou and discussed current events during that time frame. When the discussion ended, students switched gears and practiced setting a table for dinner, diapering a baby, using life-sized dolls, and talked about the responsibilities of caring for a young child. Some students said they had experience caring for younger siblings and shared their stories with the class.
V.E.S.T. student, Desmond Ashby welcomed the BEF representatives with his poster he created for the visit. He said painting and drawing are his favorite pastimes and he has won awards for his efforts. He hopes to make a career out of these talents by becoming an animation artist.
The V.E.S.T. program in the past three years, has grown from 46 to 60 students. The BEF is very proud to support this vital program and will continue to do so with proceeds from the annual Tom Fleming Sunset Classic Race. Now in it’s 30th year the race date has been set for 7PM on June 28th at Foley Field.
Donations are still being accepted for the BEF Bengal Pride in Educational Excellence Campaign at Bloomfield High School. Please donate today!