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A Brief History of How Beaver Acres Elementary Became a Future Ready School

In 2013, President Obama launched the ConnectED initiative. ConnectED was launched through the the Department of Educations's Office of Educational Technology. Obama's goal was to increase connectivity and network access to America's students. President Obama was quoted saying "In a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, why shouldn’t we have it in our schools? Why wouldn’t we have it available for our children’s education?" His goal was to outfit 99% of all American student with broadband in 5 years.

Born from this initiative was the concept of Future Ready schools. The Office of Educational Technology understood that connectivity alone was not going to help raise student achievement while preparing public school students to be college and career ready. This realization produced the Superintendent's Future Ready Pledge. This pledge states "The Future Ready District Pledge is designed to set out a roadmap to achieve that success and to commit districts to move as quickly as possible towards our shared vision of preparing students for success in college, careers and citizenship. The U.S. Department of Education seeks to encourage and support superintendents who commit to taking a leadership role in this transition with recognition and resources to help facilitate this transition to digital learning." Jeff Rose, Beaverton School District's superintendent at the time, I assume, attended one of the Future Ready Summit's and became one of the 3,100 superintendents to sign the pledge. This signature agreed to...
  • Foster and Lead a Culture of Digital Learning Within Our Schools
  • Help Schools and Families Transition to High-speed Connectivity 
  • Empower Educators through Professional Learning Opportunities
  • Accelerate Progress Toward Universal Access for All Students to Quality Devices
  • Provide Access to Quality Digital Content
  • Offer Digital Tools to Help Students And Families #ReachHigher
  • Mentor Other Districts and Helping Them Transition to Digital Learning

Signing a pledge was very much a symbolic gesture. This pledge did not come with any financial backing. Just a promise for school districts to take two giant steps into the 21st century. So in 2014, with 52 percent of the vote, the citizens of the Beaverton School District approved the largest bond measure in Oregon state history. No money? Problem solved. This bond was a building and technology bond. The visible side of the technology update would be a mix of iPads and Chromebooks deployed to all K12 schools. The invisible side was a complete update to the school district's wireless network as well as how that network is monitored. The next step was to determine how to begin.

Beaverton came up with a 3 year plan to implement Future Ready status as a district. Year one would be a pilot year for 15 of Beaverton's 55 schools. Each school was to be fitted with an wireless network upgrade, devices (1:1 at the secondary level and 2:1 at the elementary schools) and a teacher to help facilitate this massive shift in instruction at the building level. As a school we had to apply to become a pilot school. This application process was designed to help school leaders identify what instructional learning targets would be addressed, what professional development would be put in place and what outcomes would be measured to identify if instructional gains had actually happened.

As a school, we identified our instructional focus to be writing. We also chose to slowly implement Future Ready at first. Rather than just dump devices into our teacher's hands, we allowed our staff to apply to become a Year One Innovator. One teacher at each grade level would be chosen and given additional professional development in the area of writing while focusing on the integration of digital tools and resources into the curriculum. The reasoning for this approach was threefold. First, we wanted to identify those teachers who were really ready to embrace a new shift in teaching and learning. We did not want to overwhelm anyone or worse, turn our staff off to the idea of Future Ready by adding one new thing to their plate. Second, we wanted to begin to build a culture of Future Ready within these Year One Innovators which we hoped would grow within each grade level team. The idea was each team would in a way have it's own EdTech coach embedded within. I suppose it would be a trickle down effect we were looking to see. The hope was to building capacity at every grade level and embed an expert who would be on hand and ready to help others on the grade level team. Third, we wanted to create a want from our remaining staff. Competition is healthy and if we could build a want from our staff, then that drive from within was already pushing teachers to think differently about instruction and best practices. It is easy to see what to do when someone on your team is already doing it. The thing is, you believe you can do it better.

This account was a brief history of how Beaver Acres became a Future Ready School. From the national scene all the way down to the local level. I like to think that President Obama would approve of how we decided to pave our way towards Future Ready. To be sure, this path is ours and ours alone. Yours will look different and that is OK. Every one of our schools is unique and each school's needs differ. As long as the idea of Future Ready allows you to make an instructional and cultural shift with your staff, students and community for the better, this path will take you to where you need to go.




About the Future Ready District Pledge. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2017, from https://tech.ed.gov/futurereadypledge/

Take the Future Ready Schools Pledge. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2017, from http://dashboard.futurereadyschools.org/pledge/

Oregonian/OregonLive, W. O. (2014, May 21). Beaverton School District construction and technology bond passes (election results). Retrieved January 28, 2017, from http://www.oregonlive.com/beaverton/index.ssf/2014/05/beaverton_school_district_cons_1.html

https://www.beaverton.k12.or.us/depts/tchlrn/future-ready/Documents/Future-Ready-timeline-graphicv2d-cs6.pdf

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