NORTH BEND — Two students from the North Bend School District were selected to present at the prestigious Northwest Council for Computer Education Conference last weekend.
The Seattle, Wash. conference hosts 2,500 educators from around the nation, bringing them together to network and share best practices in technology education. This allows other teachers to replicate good ideas and implement them in their own classrooms.
This was the fourth year that students from the North Bend School District were selected to present, made possible by grants from the Ford Family Foundation, the North Bend School Foundation, and Pristine Auto Sales.
“We had two students and their families go up,” said Barbara Becker, North Bend Middle School’s 6th grade core language arts teacher. “It was nice to have their families because it’s a student-led conference and there were a lot of questions in our session for the parents on what they thought and how it works.”
Ethan Amato, in 7th grade at NBMS, and Haley Reeves, a freshmen at North Bend High School were the two students selected by Becker and Woodland Hood, the 7th and 8th grade English language arts teacher at NBMS.
“We looked at their public speaking ability and ability to reflect on their own work,” Hood said of how Amato and Reeves were chosen. “Their ability to think out their own work set them apart, though more would have been able to go. We could only bring two.”
Amato and Reeves showcased their e-portfolios, a piece of technology introduced at the district last year in the middle school.
For Amato’s dad, Tim, he has appreciated being able to see the e-portfolio to keep up with his son’s academic goals.
“North Bend parents can view grades online,” Tim Amato said. “When your kids are in middle school and you ask about their day, their answer is usually ‘good.’ When you ask what they did, they say, ‘stuff.’ With the portfolio, he had to communicate how he got that grade and the goals that were set. It puts pressure on to make sure he does good work because it’s something we will sit down and review and he takes pride out of that.”
For Haley Reeves, she said the experience to go to Seattle and hear other presentations opened her eyes to what else is out there beyond North Bend and Coos Bay.
“It was great,” she said, adding that she hopes NBSD spreads the e-portfolio technology into the high school one day too.
For her dad, Josh, he explained that since the district started having students use e-portfolios, he remembers what’s being done in her education.
“But not the first two years of middle school where there were lots of binders shoved with paper,” he laughed.
When he joined her and the Amatos at the conference, he was able to see what else is being done in other schools and marveled at the use of robotics and virtual reality, as well as 3D printers.
“There were a lot of cool things,” he said.
Becker believes that the e-portfolio presentation, “put North Bend on the map for innovation.”
“Nobody in the room raised their hand when I asked if they had e-portfolios in their landscape of education,” she said. “This wouldn’t be possible if teachers weren’t being innovative.”
Brad Bixler, the district’s communication specialist, said the NBSD’s strategic plan includes looking at student performance and tracking it, providing a clear line of evidence as it progresses.
“Our hope is, as they expressed, to take this further into the high school,” he said. “That’s the kind of foundation we want to see.”