LCHS 7th grade students have a new learning tool in their backpacks this year: each student is using a personal Chromebook laptop computer in their classes to engage in exciting, project-based, collaborative lessons.
For the 2015-16 school year, LCUSD continues its pilot program aimed at providing technology tools to all classrooms. The 1:1, or “one device per student,” program focuses on 5th and 7th grade students, who have purchased their own personal Chromebooks for completing work at school and at home. Throughout the district, select teachers have been supplied with their own class set of Chromebooks for use in their classrooms, and all schools have carts marked for shared use between classrooms. As it stands, most grade levels or curriculum departments can have access to a Chromebook cart at least one day per week.
So what do the students think about this new technology? To solicit their opinions, students were invited to share their thoughts on a Google Doc, which allowed all 7th grade students to collaborate on the same document from anywhere, at any time, or even at the same time.
Sudi F appreciates the convenience of working online and reducing paper use. She notes the teachers’ use of the Google Classroom app, which allows students to turn in assignments through the app, thereby streamlining many classroom procedures.
Mariana C and Eliana G anticipate a time in the near future when electronic textbooks replace bulky hard-bound versions. For now, students are using these devices to view and review teacher-created presentations, solve math problems, take quizzes, learn and use new vocabulary words, and interact with historical events with videos and maps. In all classes, students are able to collaborate when creating documents, slideshows, and spreadsheets.
Sameena B notes that her history teacher shares lessons via Google Slides, and students take notes and reflect on the daily lessons. Ryan K and Harold A value the ability to type their assignments, adding to the professional polish of their work, while Daniel C appreciates being able to share study guides with his classmates.
Supporting the students are a highly-skilled team of computer technicians and two technology-integration teachers. Stationed in the LCHS /Help Lab, the team supports teachers and students with device troubleshooting, password resets, and software updates, as well as supporting the classroom teachers as they develop tech-enhanced lessons.
All 7th grade teachers have invested many hours of preparation to not only learn about the technological possibilities of the new computers, but also about the potential for new methods of instruction. The Chromebooks represent a shift in the way students solve problems, research, create, and collaborate in the classroom, and teachers are definitely using these tools to promote those “21st Century skills.” What doesn’t change, however, is the teacher’s knowledge of a subject and their desire to connect with their students. All teachers at LCHS are diving in to new tech tools as a way to enhance--not replace--their already excellent instruction.
The Chromebooks are, at their core, a learning tool, enabling research and communication with the wider world of knowledge and scholarship. To ensure students are safely navigating these waters, teachers are presenting lessons on Digital Citizenship and online safety. At school, all traffic is filtered for safety and monitored for appropriate use. So far, students are taking on this new responsibility and using these tools to learn and create in new and exciting ways.
Sudi F summarizes the new devices perfectly: “Chromebooks will improve our student-to-student collaboration and cooperation skills, improve our ability to think through problems, and improve our ability to communicate with other students and teachers for help. Technology is moving faster, there's always something to learn!"