BELL and OLPC Partner to Digitize the Summer Learning Experience in Charlotte

Students and teachers at Allenbrook Elementary to utilize laptops to reinforce mathematics skills and engage in robotics discovery

CHARLOTTE, NC – May 20, 2013 – BELL and One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) are partnering this summer to enhance student learning and foster creativity and collaboration.  At the Allenbrook Elementary School, the two nonprofits will integrate OLPC’s laptops and technology curriculum into the BELL Summer learning program.  The collaboration will impact 140 students – called “scholars” in BELL programs – by boosting their academic skills, self-confidence, and engagement in learning.

“This is a story about mobilizing community resources to strengthen and expand learning opportunities for students,” explains Sherrinne Reece, BELL’s Director of Field Operations.  “Scholars have embraced the XO laptops and loved OLPC’s robotics club in our after school program.  By working together in the summer, BELL and can produce even more value and impact to our efforts in the L.I.F.T. zone.”

The BELL Summer program is a full-day learning and enrichment experience.  In the morning, teachers will integrate XO laptops into instructional curricula to create a blended learning environment.  Scholars will be able to express their learning and mastery of core concepts by working collaboratively to create reports, presentations, concept maps, collages, and a myriad of other digital forms.  In the afternoon, scholars will engage in a robotics club.  They will learn how to use Scratch, an open source software developed for the XO, to program their robots to perform various functions.  Scholars will also be able to take the XO home with them to continue their digital engagement after the bell has rung.

“One Laptop per Child is excited to form a partnership with BELL here in Charlotte’s Project L.I.F.T. Zone,” explains David Jessup, OLPC Project Manager.  “Our combined efforts will ensure that participating scholars are provided with a truly innovative summer learning experience. Infusion of the XO laptops into BELL’s existing program structure will only serve to enhance teaching, learning and exploration!”

BELL and OLPC have been working together to extend the use of the XO laptops into BELL’s after school program.  OLPC had planned on collecting, taking inventory, cleaning, and updating the XOs at each elementary school at the end of the school year.  But Torie, the OLPC Facilitator at Allenbrook, and Kim Smith, Math Facilitator at Allenbrook and BELL Program Manager, recognized a great opportunity to learn how XOs could enrich summer learning.

BELL is serving a total of 900 scholars across five elementary and middle schools in the West Corridor this year.  In addition to bringing technology into the classroom through its collaboration with OLPC, BELL will also utilize computer adaptive assessments to measure scholar achievement.  These efforts are designed to help Project L.I.F.T. achieve its goals in West Charlotte that 90% of students are on grade level, 90% achieve more than one year’s academic growth in one year’s time, and 90% graduate on time from West Charlotte High. Project L.I.F.T. is set to achieve 90-90-90 in five years using the pillars time (continuous learning opportunities), talent (the best teachers, administrators and staff), technology, and community/parent engagement.

“We hope that this summer’s pilot partnership will grow into a broader collaboration to further digitize summer learning experiences throughout the L.I.F.T. zone,” explains Reece.

About Project L.I.F.T.

Project L.I.F.T. is an innovative, community initiative working to improve outcomes and eliminate education disparities for minority and low-income students.  Visit for more information.


2 thoughts on “BELL and OLPC Partner to Digitize the Summer Learning Experience in Charlotte

  1. This is exciting for me to hear. We have had teams in 2008 and 2009 leading introduction (in Kenya, Kibwezi educational Centre) of OLPC XO units (six at first, then one hundred the next trip) and returned the summer of 2011 for one month. August 2013 we have a new team of fifteen adults going to a different part of Kenya (to the west). We have essentially the same six units to take with us now. I am very interested in the details, exactly how Charlotte (NC) uses these for the all-day program. We will have one week “on the ground” to do something similar – with the mission program Orphans and Vulnerable Children.

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