Technology in District #61
Sep 07, 2017 10:54AM
By Ben Scott
By Jen Pena and Michele Goshko,
District 61 anxiously began the start of the 2017-18 school year with each student in grades three and six being issued an Acer Chromebook to use during the school day and at home. The thin, lightweight Chromebooks use Internet-based programs instead of traditional computer software. The District introduced this model of chromebook at Lace School and Eisenhower Junior High School three years ago in a shared cart environment. The Chromebook carts have become an extremely popular instructional tool with teachers and students. This past year, the second grade students at Mark DeLay School began using a touch screen version of Chromebooks adding to our Chromebook fleet. District 61 teachers have been immersed in Google tools and Chromebooks for over three years now and are more than ready to take on the challenge of a 1:1 classroom setting and the increase of shared cart availability. The term 1:1 translates to one laptop per child. The district three-year technology plan is to have a ratio of 1:1 in grades three through eight and a 2:1 in grades K-2.
The District Technology team presented a three-year plan to the Board of Education beginning in April of 2016 proposing a tiered rollout approach leading to a 1:1 implementation. Each year for the next three years, the students in grades three and six will receive a Chromebook and protective stay-in bag. By the end of the 2019-2020 school year, all students in grades three through eight will have a Chromebook for use at school and at home. The students will turn in their devices each summer.
This learning approach is not about the technology. It is about enhancing the teaching and learning experience for our students. This opportunity provides teachers and students flexibility, individualized learning choices, and personalization. Combining these elements, we have the potential to yield increased student motivation, performance, efficiency, and effectiveness. The District is very excited to offer this kind of learning environment to our students.
The Chromebook uses the Chrome operating system allowing seamless integration with Google tools and accounts. Each student has a district issued Google account they will use for organizing their schoolwork, collaborating and communicating with their peers and teacher in real time, and creating projects.
The District teachers have been preparing for this initiative. Teachers have been encouraged to complete training and take an exam to become Google Certified Educators. Many staff members have taken advantage of this professional development opportunity and now have a Google Certified Educator endorsement.
Parents will had the opportunity to learn more about this initiative at an informational meeting held on August 23, at 7 PM in the EJH commons. Guidelines, release forms, and instructional videos were shared along with a chance to meet the tech team. Parents will also have a 1:1 web portal as a resource for all things Chromebook in the district.
Jen Pena and Michele Goshko are District 61 Technology Educators