BBP’s ‘Thinking Forward’ Plan Focuses on Schools’ Future
The Bayport-Blue Point School District introduced a multidimensional
plan for the future of education in its schools this November. The
design focuses on the vision for education as well as the priority areas
for making this a reality.
The design, Thinking Forward, stems from a yearlong conversation with
the community about what we want for our students and how best to align
our efforts with those desired results. Thinking Forward reflects the
district’s commitment to continually enhancing our efforts on behalf of
all our students. As no one element ensures student success, the design
is comprised of four components – Learning, Connections, Environments
“Thinking Forward reflects a belief that organizations are either
improving or declining; there is no status quo,” said Superintendent of
Schools, Dr. Vincent Butera. “While the challenges currently facing all
school districts are real, we cannot allow these obstacles to prevent us
from enhancing the experience of the 2,400 students who go through
their K-12 years only once. By purposefully allocating our time, energy
and resources, we will be able to develop scholars who possess the
social, emotional and academic skills needed to be successful adults.”
The community is encouraged to continually visit the “Thinking Forward”
section of the district website, www.bbpschools.org, to learn more about
ongoing efforts on behalf of all students in Bayport-Blue Point.
Dreaming, Designing & Building
Revised Technology Program Focuses on STEM
The Introduction to Technology course offered to sixth- through eighth-grade students at James Wilson Young Middle School will be undergoing a makeover this fall as higher-thinking STEM-based activities and lessons will be incorporated into the program’s curriculum. While the sixth-graders will continue to concentrate on the use of basic hand tools, resources of technology and the importance of material selection, the seventh- and eighth-grade program will go beyond the traditional woodshop to engage students in designing exercises using various computer programs and constructing projects based on their original designs.
Using a program called Whitebox Learning, a Web-based STEM learning system, the students will be able to research, analyze and virtually test designs, such as gliders, rockets and other structures. Working in 3-D, the students will go beyond basic resources, like a T-square and drawing board, to design functional projects before putting them to the test in the virtual environment. Incorporating what they learn in the classroom – including the theories on wind resistance and inertia – they will have the chance to alter projects’ specifications after seeing how they perform virtually against classmates and students from other schools.
“Currently, in our bridge building unit, the students only get one chance to build and test their projects,” said teacher Robert Donarummo. “When working in this virtual environment, they will be able to learn about the lessons more deeply and hands-on as they work to optimize their designs.”
The eighth-grade CAD LT program will also be enhanced, as students use technology to design and print their projects using AutoCAD software. Additionally, using a desktop 3-D printer and the MakerBot Replicator 2 software, the students will be able to create projects with moving parts, including customized wheels for their model car unit and plastic gears or fins for the rocket module.
In addition to the curricular changes planned, the district is also working to reconfigure the current classroom, which has largely remained unchanged since constructed in 1975. By doing this, the room will be divided into two sections – a computer lab and a hands-on woodshop including state-of-the-art equipment. The school’s current SCANTEK 2000 lab will be upgraded using new software, and modules will be updated to keep curriculum content current. Presently, the lab includes lessons on computer applications using floppy disks. The new setup will focus on 21st century-relevant lessons, such as creating digital videos, robots, intelligent homes for model houses and mobile apps.
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Partnership Leads to Tech Pilot
As the district continues to identify ways to enhance instructional practices by further integrating technology in the classroom, a modest iPad initiative is planned for the fall. This pilot is being coordinated through a partnership with Bayport-Blue Point Public Library and will include 60 iPad minis for use in various grade levels and curriculum areas. The devices, which will be on loan from the library, will be customized for education through the use of instructional apps and will enable students to remain connected to learning. In the upcoming months, the district will be creating a professional learning community of teachers and administrators to discuss how this resource can best be used to strengthen students’ 21st century learning skills.
In addition to the iPad pilot, the district is working with the library to expand traditional resources available to students. A courier borrowing system has been developed that will allow students to borrow from the public library through the district’s current library system, granting them greater access to written materials and research documents.
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Facility Committee Leads Charge in Districtwide Review
Bayport-Blue Point School District’s Facility Committee is nearing a yearlong review of the schools’ infrastructure and maintenance needs.
The approximate 15-member committee, comprised of community members, administrators and staff, has been working with BBS architects and engineers since last spring to tour and identify the capital needs of each building and surrounding grounds. Broken down by location, the team compiled a comprehensive list of items earmarked for further consideration by the district. These items are geared toward supporting the four priority areas of the district’s Thinking Forward plan as well as preserving building integrity and ensuring the health and safety of students.
“Over the past year and a half, the district and community have focused heavily on ways to enhance the educational experience for current and future BBP students,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Vincent Butera. “However, in order to best support those initiatives, we must address the needs of our physical plant and put into place a schedule for maintaining and updating learning spaces to meet the higher standards we are striving to achieve.”
It is anticipated that the committee will deliver their recommendations to the Board of Education by the end of the 2014-2015 school year. The Board will then convene to determine the scope and timing of a potential capital project.
Below is an anticipated timeline for future discussions of the improvement project:
April 2015: BOE Meeting
• BBS updates BOE on status of committee review of initial projects
June 2015: BOE Meeting
• Committee presents their final report to the board
• BOE establishes fixed scope and size of possible bond referendum
• BOE review/possible adoption of SEQRA and bond resolutions
• Ongoing public forums to discuss proposed work
Late October 2015
• Possible bond vote
Local Professionals Connect to Thinking Forward
The Bayport-Blue Point School District has partnered with Long
Island-based tech giant Future Tech Enterprise, Inc. to support the next
chapter of the schools’ “Thinking Forward” vision plan.
Working in tandem, the district will benefit from the globally
recognized, full-service IT solution provider’s expertise as it develops
plans for its next-generation classrooms and STEAM (science,
technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) initiatives. In the
coming months, the company will aid in the redesign of those classrooms
targeted to house the new computer science and engineering programs
(beginning in 2015-16) at Bayport-Blue Point High School.
The partnership, valued at $250,000, will continue over the next five
years, during which the company has vowed to provide technology
consulting, design/implementation support and services. Additionally,
Future Tech will play an integral role in facilitating meetings between
the district and public and private parties with a desire to donate
support for future enhancements.
“BBP is extremely grateful for the support Future Tech has shown for our
Thinking Forward tactical plan,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr.
Vincent Butera. “In today’s global learning community, it is imperative
that students are not only provided with the education to learn, but
also the appropriate resources to achieve. The company’s support will
help us ensure that our next-generation classrooms are best equipped to
meet these needs.”
“As an alumnus of the district and CEO and founder of Future Tech, it
is my great pleasure to aid the district in bringing to fruition its
plans to enhance learning spaces for today’s students,” said Future Tech
CEO Bob Venero. “As a technology-based company, we see firsthand the
myriad of job opportunities this growing industry can bring, and have a
personal stake in supporting today’s youth in their desire to explore
fields related to the areas of STEAM.”
Launched in 2014, BBP’s Thinking Forward is comprised of four
overarching components – Learning, Connections, Environment and Pathways
– and is geared toward enhancing educational opportunities for all
scholars. This partnership will not only support the environment
component, but also bring benefits to the areas of learning and
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Pathways for Enhanced Learning
Throughout the school year, the district engaged members of the community in discussions about the future of education in the schools. These conversations centered on creating hands-on, real-world learning experiences for students, introducing and enhancing STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs and fostering creativity and problem-solving skills. These identified priorities guided the district’s work in developing the following initiatives for the coming school year and beyond:
The district is collaborating internally and with well-renowned professionals to develop plans to create a global learning center in the current middle school library and to redesign two traditional classrooms in order to provide students with greater access to information using technology and opportunities to learn collaboratively. 3D renderings of these spaces are currently being prepared.
Educationally-based field trips will be implemented in the third through sixth grades to support Common Core Learning Standards and the need for authentic real-world learning experiences.
Technology at their Fingertips
Through a partnership with the Bayport-Blue Point Library, the district will pilot a modest no-cost iPad initiative this year. The devices will be customized for education through the use of instructional apps and will enable students to remain connected to learning whether in the classroom or beyond. A professional learning community is planning how this resource can best be used to strengthen students’ 21st century learning skills and complete the network upgrades needed to support the pilot.
The district’s enrichment program (piloted in 2013-14 in third grade) will be expanded to include fourth grade. This program, which serves as a complement and expansion of the grade levels’ curriculum, focuses on project-based learning and calls for students to become creative and critical thinkers. Students work collaboratively with peers, celebrate their success with culminating projects and learn important research skills through a strong integration of technology.
The Introduction to Technology course for seventh- and eighth-grade students is being revamped to go beyond the traditional woodshop program to engage students in electronic designing and building exercises. Students will design and modify functional projects and have the chance to test them in a virtual environment. 3D renderings are currently being developed that would transform the current woodshop lab and Scantech lab, which has remain virtually unchanged since its construction in 1975, into a state of the art design and build lab.
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