Data-projecting success at Maclean Elementary

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
June 22nd, 2011

Several weeks back the Telegraph took a look inside the Rossland Secondary School success plan and found a school with teachers and administrators operating at a high level based around a new interpretation of the three R’s. This week, we head south-east a couple of blocks down to Maclean Elementary to learn how their success plan is Infusing technology into the learning plan for students of all ages.


Having just completed the first year in their current five year success plan, Maclean Elementary has been generating lots of success around technology–and one new piece of equipment in particular. At the same time that excitement over bringing more technology has been translating into increased success in the classroom as well.

“Technology has been a huge area of focus for the district, so we’ve decided to make it our focus at the school level here at Maclean as well,” explained Maclean principle Teresa Berdusco.” It’s pretty broad but we’re trying to figure out if technology in fact can create higher engagement levels in the classroom and hence higher student achievement.”

Through the use of new websites, software, the school’s document camera and a continual search for new technology materials, the overall goal of Maclean’s five year plan for success is to demonstrate at least 90% of students acquiring prescribed technology and information literacy skills at the end of each grade level.

To get to that level the school aims to increase the number of technology-infused assignments by 10% each year.

One of the primary tools the school has been using is their document camera. Essentially a modern day overhead projector, the document camera is exactly what it sounds like: a high resolution camera looking down from a mounted position, connected to a projector to aid presentations and displays.

“We would like to demonstrate that document cameras can enhance student achievement by allowing the teacher to create learning environments where students are actively engaged. Student engagement is one of most important factors that affect teaching and student motivation to learn. We hypothesize that instructional approaches using a document camera will increase the level of student engagement during the learning process in the classroom,” states the plan.

The proof seems apparent in the additional excitement and engagement teachers have seen over the past school year.

“We asked the kids how and if the document camera helped them, basically, and the responses that came back were just perfect,” explained Berdusco. “Things like, ‘I like that I’m able to see clear and focus on a large screen and can see everything so well and don’t have to huddle to watch a video on a small screen’, and ‘It helped me learn. You can see thins more clearly and get the concept better’. It’s really been a wonderful experience.”

At present 82% of kindergarten students are meeting expectations. Grade 3s are in the 90-93% range, meeting expectations. By the time you get to grade five over 98% of students are meeting or exceeding expectations.

A major part of school’s success plans also involves teacher learning. The school’s technology focus has since worked its way into Pro-D days, staff meetings and, as Berdusco notes, the staff are getting excited about it as much as the students.

Each Wednesday morning the staff has a drop in learning session, occasionally facilitated by Berdusco herself or by another teacher. In addition the school has brought in various experts and held workshops with teachers around various technological tools they can imbed in their lessons.

“We’ve gone out to schools to observe lessons of other teachers using tech in the classroom and have had visitors come to our school so our teachers could observe them. There is lots of learning going on which has led to rich conversations among staff and it’s transferring into the classroom,” noted Berdusco. “ You’ll see them chatting about new learning sites they’ve found at lunch time with one another and sharing information because they’re excited about it themselves.”

Buoyed by this early success, Berdusco is looking forward to moving forward with the plan. During the 2011-2012 school year, Maclean’s continued focus will be on having more students demonstrating more of their knowledge through technology. The staff, for their part, will continue to monitor how these developments affect overall achievement.

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