• May 3, 2018—The $1.2 billion Bond package passed in 2014 saw upgrades in all corners of CFISD.

    That includes inside every classroom, as the Bond-funded Lightspeed sound enhancement technology will be in every class across the district’s 91 campuses by the end of 2018.

    Woodard Elementary School fourth-grade students communicate with teacher Tracy Northington through a Lightspeed Flexcat speaker pod while working on a group activity in one of the school’s flexible learning spaces. Voter-approved bond funds will supply each classroom in the district with Lightspeed technology by the end of 2018.

    Teachers speak into a microphone, which is small enough to wear around one’s neck with a lanyard. Pods are then placed within a small group of students. They’re also portable and can travel with a group to a flex space. Not only can the students listen to the teachers, but the system offers two-way communication, giving the students opportunities to talk to their teachers and giving educators the ability to expand their reach without having to raise their voices in a classroom setting.

    In an article on Lightspeed’s website, audiologist J.L. McCall states children can spend up to 70 percent of their school day listening to teachers, classmates and themselves. They can’t however, listen like adults, who can better fill in the gaps to any information missed while listening to a speaker.

    “The vision was originally (meant) to improve the intelligibility in the classroom so that every child would hear every word,” said Lightspeed CEO David Colomon. “What we found over time was all children benefitted from this low-volume, high-intelligible technology that we could put in the classroom.”

    Bridgeland High School AP human geography teacher and social studies department chair Megan Puckett addresses her class using a Lightspeed Flexmike pendant microphone with an earbud lanyard that allows smaller groups of students to contact her using one of their Activate pods.

    Added Bridgeland High School freshman Jack Stanko: “I’m not usually able to hear when I’m in the back of the class, but having the microphone helps.”

    In addition to volume, Lightspeed technology also helps limit distractions during instruction, especially while students are working in groups.

    Whereas students may stop their conversations when a teacher approaches and possibly lose their train of thoughts, teachers are able to listen from afar and even communicate with any given student without stopping their learning.

    Bridgeland High School freshman student Anagha Deshpande asks a question to teacher Megan Puckett without having to raise her hand or turn around by using a Lightspeed Activate small-group audio pod.

    “I can hear their conversations,” said Megan Puckett, Bridgeland High School human geography teacher. “I can drop in and they can ask questions. It stretches out your reach and allows you to especially reach some of your kids who might be afraid to speak up in a larger context.”

    The feedback has been positive.

    Bang Elementary School kindergarten students Callie Romero, left, and Isaac Garcia play Osmo on a class iPad while a Lightspeed Flexcat speaker pod sits on their table. The two-way audio system allows the students to communicate with teacher Julie Gassaway, who speaks to them using a Flexmike teacher microphone. 

    “The kids are much more engaged in what’s going on in the classroom because they can hear,” said Becky Cook, CFISD director of instructional technology. “They can work in groups and they have their teacher. The teachers are really, really loving it.”