The word is out…Students Like Their Chromebooks Blog Post #4

n1-ylkwfc-1024x653

A few weeks ago I read a great article from E Missourian.com

Survey: Students Like Their Chromebooks

The article was about a report written by Debbie Haley, technical director for the Meramec Valley R-III Middle School.  In the report, she outlined that through a district initiative, each student from grade 6 through 8 had received a Dell Chromebook.

The students were able to bring their new machines home while the teachers received training on how best to use the Chromebooks as a learning tool in the classroom.

The comments of the students speak volumes about programs like this:

“Having a computer to take home means I can look up stuff and learn how to do things any time without having to ask the teacher,” 

“This is the best way to do homework because if I forget my math book, it’s on the website,”

What I noticed about these comments is that the students in our school have been saying exactly the same thing for the past two years.

I recently retired as principal of a small low-income urban school.  We made the decision over two years ago that to give our students a greater chance of success, they needed to have their own Chromebook and the juniors (grades 4-6) needed to bring them home every night.

The program had its hiccups and nay sayers, but it was a success.  Teachers received good quality PD and the freedom to learn more on their own.  Students were expected to bring their machine home every night and continue work on digital programs, including Google apps for Education and Hapara that they had started at school.

IMG_20141016_125924.jpg

It became the expectation that a computer would be available at all times and if one broke down, it would be replaced immediately.

Our school board did some things to make it feasible to become a 1:1 school.  Chromebooks were cheap to buy, we were a Google board, so students and teachers had access to all the great apps available through Google.  Training was available to students and teachers on some of the programs that we were using every day and we did receive some computers from the school board as we were considered a high needs school.

teachers receive a certificate after a training day on Discovery Education
teachers receive a certificate after a training day on Discovery Education

While we never did a comprehensive report, I feel that the program was a success.

As part of my ‘good-bye’ from the students and the teachers, a video was created that allowed many of the students to say something they were thankful for that had taken place while I was principal.  Many of them said they were thankful for their Chromebooks and the freedom it gave them to learn independently.

I was surprised by this especially because we had just completed a major school yard renewal – with play structures – and I thought this would be what meant the most to our students.

It wasn’t – it was their Chromebooks.

To me this is really important.  By providing powerful computers to our students we were giving them a voice, we were allowing them to control their own learning.  By training the teachers, we are giving them the confidence to use the machines every day in class.

The major drawback to all this is that this was a school initiative not a district-wide project like the Meramec Valley students were part of.  Sadly, because our district cannot yet see the value in 1:1 programs, our effort to provide computers to most students will not be sustained.

It is sad to say that most administrators do not see the value in having a computer for every child.  Our district no longer gives out computers and has recently gone with a new Chromebook that is twice the price of the ones we used to purchase.

It is very hard to understand why people do not see the value in these programs and why they do not listen to the students who have been empowered by these sophisticated tools.  There now is ample evidence that 1:1 makes a real difference when done properly.  I look forward to the day when small initiatives become district priorities.

 

post #ecoo13 where do we go from here?

  • keep yourself in the role of the learner

  • tell your story: be visible, live out loud, create value, leverage video and social media, reflect and blog 

  • stay connected

  • consider frameworks such as the SAMR model as an ongoing change model 

  • consider the power of students teaching students through video

  • nurture those around you

Mark Carbone, President ECOO

bringit_textonlybadge_transparent

 

These are all great ways to move forward from this point.  I consider myself very fortunate to have received such great PD over the past six months.  The CASA conference in July, Will Richardson @willrich45 at our Director’s Conference and of course #ECOO13.

I have to thank my superintendent Simone Oliver @SimoneROliver and our IT guru Rob Long @longrwr for giving me these wonderful opportunities!  Now, I need to keep the learning going.

For one thing, I have to go back to lanyard and collect more information from the workshops I attended – I will go back and add this to the posta already up.

Next, what do I do when I return to school?

One idea.  I loved the Minds on Media session.  I had great conversations with teachers and I learned about cool apps

I would like to make the rest of this year a Minds on Media session.  

Our teachers are doing great things every day.  They use Raz Kids, Dream Box, mathletics, Edmodo, Edublog, Kidblog, Blogger.  They use iPads, netbooks and now Chromebooks.  They are doing incredible things all the time.

On top of all that, they work in collaborative teams with teachers from two other schools – they are all involved in really interesting inquiry projects – the first set of projects will be complete by the end of November.

So, this is what I am going to do:

  • make a visual record of the innovative teaching that is going on every day
  • give our staff an audience by posting their work here on this blog
  • create a visual record of the work of our triads – journey with them through their inquiries
  • celebrate, encourage, support, serve and learn from our teachers

This is such a challenging time for teachers – every day they are confronted with some new form of technology.  They are being asked to change their teaching methodology to support an entirely new learning environment.  They are being asked not to deliver information but to create intelligence out of the mass of information our students now have access to.

Has there ever been a more challenging time – I would say no.

So what do I need to do?  See myself as the lead learner in the school and accompany our teachers on the rocky journey to incorporate technology into a new way of teaching – the journey will be rockey because not everything will work – but if you don’t take risks you will never learn, and we are all about learning!

one triad at work - as principal, my role will be to support and accompany them on their learning journey - and of course celebrate!!
one triad at work – as principal, my role will be to support and accompany them on their learning journey – and of course celebrate!!