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Testimonial: New Berlin School District

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Testimonial: New Berlin School District
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Kevin Messman, Coordinator of Instructional Technology, New Berlin Public Schools (Retired)

The Challenge
In the School District of New Berlin, our challenge has been how to use technology in the classroom to address multiple learning styles of students and transform learning in the classroom. Six years ago we were encouraged by research findings on the use of interactive whiteboards. It was found interactive whiteboards were engaging and motivating for students & educators. The interactivity of the SMART board also addressed students’ preferred learning styles – visual, kinesthetic and auditory. We expect our educators to use technology to transform learning. This includes shifting the focus from teacher-centered to student-centered instruction. Learning should focus more on higher order thinking skills. Students should be in the role of information producer, communicator and researcher.

The Solution
The solution to our challenge was to provide technology tools and professional development to teachers who were committed to addressing learning styles of students and transforming learning. As the district has acquired SMART boards and projectors for teachers over the past six years, teachers have had to apply for a setup in their classroom. As part of this commitment, educators have agreed to a minimum six hours of professional development in the use of their SMART board and Notebook software. Options for this professional development include: district summer three-day Technology Academy, school & district professional development provided by SMART trainers, and course for credit. As we acquired more SMART boards in schools we quickly discovered that 1-2 trainers cannot effectively reach all educators. Several years ago we went to a train-the-trainer model. We are fortunate in our district as we have four SMART Master Certified Trainers who train our trainers (2-4 per school). We are moving toward creating an all-in-one media center in classrooms using the SMART Board, SMART Audio System and projector to connect to the computer and CATV access.

The Result
The School District of New Berlin currently has 236 SMART boards. All elementary classrooms and three-fourths of secondary classrooms have a mounted SMART board and projector. We continue to provide professional development opportunities for educators to ensure their use of interactive whiteboards is truly to transform learning – provide learning experiences for students not possible without the technology. We are beginning to explore the use of SMART Response and Document Cameras in the classroom. Each school has 1-2 SMART Response systems and 1-4 document cameras with plans to acquire more this school year.