All Bellevue schools will be open Friday, December 2. All programs will be in operation as regularly scheduled, including nutrition and transportation services.

By Ronna Weltman – Special to the Bellevue Reporter

(Original article on bellevuereporter.com)

Ciabhan Moore works at a laptop at the district’s Big Picture school. In background are Oscar Zeng, left, and Parker Swearingen, right. All were 6th graders last year. — Image Credit: COURTESY PHOTO, Baker Rawlings
Ciabhan Moore works at a laptop at the district’s Big Picture school. In background are Oscar Zeng, left, and Parker Swearingen, right. All were 6th graders last year. — Image Credit: COURTESY PHOTO, Baker Rawlings

Bellevue School District’s Big Picture School has its first year under its belt. This year, enrollment will be doubled – it opened last year with 6th and 9th graders – and a new 6th and 9th grade class this year means 225 students in four grade levels.

In the fall of 2014 the school will have seven grade levels, from 6th to 12th, with about 500 students.

The school is part of the national Big Picture Learning Network that features five guiding principles: personalization, adult-world connection, common intellectual mission, supportive partnerships, and shared leadership and responsibility. This is achieved through three foundation principles: learning must be based on the interests and goals of each student; curriculum must be relevant to the people and places that exist in the real world; and student abilities must be authentically measured by the quality of his or her work.

Thanks to additional funding from Bellevue Schools Foundation, Bellevue’s Big Picture School is implementing innovations in technology that offer even more opportunity to model the school day into an exciting, cutting-edge work environment.

“It’s great,” explained Principal Bethany Spinler. “The staff have fully embraced it and the kids love it. It’s a world they’re comfortable with. We do a lot of instruction around the appropriate use of technology. We’re teaching them how to work the way they’ll work in college.”

51117BigPictureSchool1With laptops for each student, and tools like a 3D printer so students who are studying science and engineering can generate accurate models, learning is real and authentic. Students are writing code, doing programming, and extending their learning even beyond the traditional school day.

“Because our students live all over the city,” Spinler said, “it can be impossible to get together after school. Now they can do it digitally, learning tools of online collaboration.”

The school faces the ongoing challenge of finding individuals, businesses and organizations to serve as mentors and provide internships for Big Picture School students each year. But the challenges pale in comparison to what has been achieved so far.

“We’re excited,” Spinler said. “We had a successful year last year. We’re excited to bring in new families and be a model of what a strong project-based, technology-rich personalized school should be.”

More information about serving as a mentor or providing an internship can be obtained from Barb Mercier at mercierb@bsd405.org.

The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.