Technology Spotlight On: Oakland Unified School District
If staff development can be likened to a "moving target", then Oakland Unified seems to have made a direct hit, as well as a direct impact.
Oakland Unified successfully competed and was awarded two Technology Literacy Challenge grants, the first in 1997, and the second in 1998. The 1997 (or Round 1) grant focused on grades 6-8, and the 1998 (Round 2 grant focused on grade 5. The Core Values and Foundations projects for history and language arts currently serves over 200 grade 5-8 teachers and over 9,000 students in this large, urban district. Staff development is an integral component of their program, ably run by Peter Hutcher, Project Director and Pam Bovyer, Project Manager.
Oakland's staff development program promotes the integration of technology tools into the training, provides materials, encourages and motivates through collaborative efforts such as coaching, e-mail access and community partnerships. Teachers also participate in threaded discussions and receive resources through an Internet forum hosted by Blackboard.Com. Lesson plans and activities are available on-line, supported in part by a partnership between Oakland Unified and U.C. Berkeley Interactive University Project with the Bay Area Writing Project as the primary partner. Pam noted that, for her, one of the most exciting things about being a part of the grant is "…the chance to see a complete staff development program, from inception to fruition."
Students and teachers have access to primary source documents as well as a variety of other materials from the Internet Library. Each classroom has been equipped with a networked Research Center that includes two new multi-media computers, three refurbished computers (486s with Internet connection), and a Laser printer. Classrooms also have access to a digital camera, a variety of videos and student materials, and a large screen monitor. Fifth grade classrooms also have Alpha-Smart keyboards. The Core Values program melds critical thinking skills with the implementation of academic standards.
Although a project of this size and scope took longer than anticipated to implement, the project is now moving along quickly. Besides staff development, two areas of the project with which Pam is especially pleased are the availability of technical and curricular support and the Virtual Museum, which showcases student work. Much of the credit for the Virtual Museum goes to the talent of the webmaster, Linda Swanson. You can view the Core Values project on the California Department of Education's web site: http://www.cde.ca.gov/tlc. Click on the TLC Project Web Sites link.
More good news has followed Core Values: In addition to having the staff development model adopted for other curricular areas by the district, Oakland Unified recently received an Urban Institute grant to do an in-depth evaluation of their project. Congratulations!
For more information on this Project, you may contact: Peter Hutcher or Pam Bovyer, Oakland Unified School District, (510) 879-8579 or (510) 879-2681.
Joyce Hinkson is a consultant for the California Department of Education's Education Technology Office. She may be reached at (916) 323-2241 or by e-mail at