Learning Lab nearly done at B-P High School

BROADALBIN – The Virtual Advanced Placement Learning Lab in the high school media center is nearly done and will be available to students taking the courses this school year, officials said.

The AP classes will be available because the district has received a $465,832 grant from the New York State Education Department’s Virtual Advanced Placement Program, according to a news release from the district.

Students were able to choose from six AP courses that will be offered simultaneously with existing college or advanced courses. The AP classes that will be offered include: biology, calculus, computer science, English literature and composition, U.S. history and world history.

The new Virtual Advanced Placement room includes furniture that will be used by Virtual AP students and teachers. The area nearest to the new wall features tables and chairs to accommodate large groups; it’s also where the Broadalbin-Perth Board of Education will hold its monthly meetings. Clusters of lounge chairs and high-top tables will give students places to study individually or in small groups.

Technological systems will be installed. All of the furniture and technology in the Virtual AP room are being paid for with grant money. Some of the technology includes two 80- inch touch screens and a surround-sound system for video and audio that may relate to some of the classes.

“This is a ground-breaking initiative for the district, and I think we will be leading the area in this type of program,” Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson said. “We will provide college-level instruction with the highest level of rigor they can get.”

Tomlinson said the new room will be the only class monitored by camera in the district.

The virtual AP program will allow the district to offer two tracks – local or college credit and preparation for the AP exam – to students in one classroom in a single course taught by one teacher.

Students can choose to take only the traditional course or prepare for the AP exam outside of class through a virtual curriculum to be designed by Broadalbin-Perth teachers.

The grant money will be used to pay for professional development for the teachers on both the AP curriculum and teaching in a virtual environment.

The district also used the grant money to buy Chromebook laptops for each participating student and teacher; install smart boards and wireless Internet access points in each Virtual AP classroom; and buy e-textbooks and other learning materials for the Virtual AP classes.

The Virtual AP room in the high school also houses a Cisco TelePresence system that will allow the district’s Virtual AP teachers to collaborate with educators in other districts interested in replicating Broadalbin-Perth’s program and allow for the possibility of offering B-P’s AP courses to other districts through distance learning.

School board goals

The school board approved its five goals for the 2013-14 school year and are as follows with no specific order:

– Accelerate and institutionalize the use of technology to increase instructional effectiveness and operational efficiency in accordance with the district’s five-year technology plan, including transitioning to a paperless school district.

– Improve the school culture districtwide by ensuring all faculty and staff strictly and consistently enforce the district’s Code of Conduct.

– Develop and deliver a draft plan to systematically use technology to customize individual students’ learning and assessment on a large and replicable scale.

– Enhance and increase STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) learning opportunities for all students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12.

– Exemplify lifelong learning by formalizing ongoing professional development opportunities for board members. Each board member will complete and track a minimum of 20 hours of professional development during the 2013-14 school year and aspire to complete 30 hours of professional development.