Thursday, February 01, 2018

Chromebooks For All!

As the 1:1 movement approaches, many Bismarck High and Century teachers feel like they are entering a sandstorm. I am here to assure you that while it might appear that way from afar, I believe it actually ends with a beautiful sand castle. Sounds nice, right? Let’s take a trip over the drawbridge…

First, we remember why we are doing this, and it’s not just because Legacy is. New research shows that 1:1 initiatives have a ”statistically significant positive impact on student test scores in English/language arts, writing, math, and science,” (Doran & Herold, 2016). It’s also common knowledge that providing individual student devices helps advance 21st century skills, enhancing the way our students collaborate, problem solve, create, and communicate. It is our duty to prepare them for future education and employment where this knowledge and skill level is critical for success. In addition, it’s been proven to increase student engagement, reduce student behavior problems, and even promote better relationships between teachers and students.

Of course, there are going to be obstacles and there will most definitely be a learning curve for both students and staff. We don’t know what we don’t know yet, but perhaps we can learn a little something from the veterans at Legacy! Many Legacy teachers noted that they wished they would have gone straight to Google Classroom as the Learning Management System because of its ease of use and student familiarity. If I had to give an estimate, I’d say roughly 75% of teachers at Bismarck High already use it or could pick it up in no time, making that learning curve much less drastic. Those of you advanced in technology may wish to explore LearnBPS (formerly Moodle) for it’s detailed customization and features such as; confidence based scoring, robust analytics, a wider variety of activities, flexibility with embedded content, and adaptive feedback.

Some students liked having it checked out to them the week before school started so they could learn to fluidly navigate it before entering the classrooms. Others said they didn’t feel the need for any formalized training on Chromebooks. These devices are incredibly simple and students will learn what they need to on their own with experience. Teachers, then, can continue to focus on building content knowledge and lesson design, but delivering it in a more student-centered format, something we can all agree upon as critical for independent growth and success.

I think it’s worth mentioning here that one of the biggest misconceptions I hear from students and staff is that all teaching and learning will be expected to occur online. This is not the case. Yes, much, if not most, of it can be done digitally, but this is not the expectation, nor is it appropriate in every scenario. In fact, many kids choose to mix both their online lessons with paper and pencil notes, for example. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to personalize your own learning, and students will appreciate it when more options are given to them.
What I most look forward to as the Library Media Specialist, is the possibilities to collaborate with teachers and support students in more authentic, 21st century learning. Long gone are the days where the librarian is the beholder of books and the research specialist. My role as an educator of media and technology literacy is bound to become more utilized, as there will be an increased demand for teaching technology operations and concepts, creative and innovative processes and products, and communication and collaboration, all ND Library and Technology Standards that virtually go untouched at the high school level. So buddy up with your LMS and take advantage of your Technology Project Lead’s expertise (Nick Holzer at BHS, Daphne Held at CHS, and Aaron Preabt at LHS)!

If you have questions about 1:1  logistics, please check out the BPS 1:1 Chromebook website where you can find things to consider as the classroom teacher and answers to your questions on device expectations/management. Wondering if your tech tool is FGA approved? Checkout the master list and enter a new resource request as needed.

Twitter Tuesday Questions:
Q1 - What are you most looking forward to as we move to a 1:1 school?
Q2 - How does this open up new opportunities in the classroom?
Q3 - How will you need to adjust classroom management strategies? Share some tips!
Q4 - What is one of your personal goals?

Doran, L., & Herald, B. (2016). 1-to-1 Laptop Initiatives Boost Student Scores, Study Finds. Education Week, 35(31), 11.

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