Thanks to a grant of nearly $15,000, several classes of Peabody-Burns elementary and middle school students are utilizing Google Chrome Books to supplement their learning.
Superintendent Ron Traxson said the laptop computers were supposed to come in earlier, but were delayed due to Christmas demand.
“I’m really excited about this,” he told school board members Monday. “I think we’ll be able to do great things with them.”
Eventually board members hope teachers can use Chrome Books rather than textbooks, to cut costs and increase learning, but for now will use the computers to supplement textbooks.
“Currently it cost virtually the same for textbooks with online text as online text alone,” Traxson said.
Currently teachers Lousie Whiteman, second grade; Travis Schafer, fourth grade; and Annette Weems, sixth-and-eighth grade English have a set of Chrome Books for their classes.
“They are some of our most technically experienced staff,” Traxson said. “As we implement we will help the less experienced staff adapt through the learning process.”
If funding allows, next year teachers Donna Hanneman, third grade; Jennifer Young, fifth grade; and sixth and eighth grade math classes will receive computers for their classes.
Whiteman said her favorite part of the Chrome Books is that her students are engaged.
“They love it,” she said.
She said the students have picked up how to work the computers fairly well.
“They are teaching each other and asking me everyday what we are doing on the Chrome Books,” she said. “In fact the students are teaching me things as we learn together.”
Whiteman is also working with other teachers using the Chrome Books to learn how they work and to see what the best way to approach things are.
“We teach, learn, and explore together,” she said. “This is what makes it so exciting because the students are seeing how learning works. People work together, make mistakes and approach items a different way.”
Technical support is available for teachers who need additional help.
“He has worked really hard to make them safe for us in the classroom,” Whiteman said.
Whiteman just wishes there was more time for teachers to learn the ins and outs of the Chrome Books.
“There is so much I want to do with the Chrome Books but time is always the one piece that slows me down,” she said.
Teachers are discovering sites like PadLet for grammar, for students to utilize. Students are also learning how to use Google Documents, and can have Whiteman check their progress by simply emailing her the document.
Weems said the benefits of the computers far outweigh any negatives.
“One simple, but key feature is the ‘instant on’ nature of the device,” she said. “I can ask kids to shut the Chrome Books at anytime, if I need their full attention. For instance, if we are working on a new application and I need to give further instructions, I can simply ask them to shut the lid, I can instruct them, and then they can re-open and get right back on track.”
She is please with how the students help each other to work through issues and questions that may arise.
“They generally love the Chrome Books,” Weems said. “The computers are pretty speedy, and accomplish everything we want.”
Currently the class is working to create a website for the art program featuring each artist and their works, creating an online scavenger hunt to help orient new students and sixth graders with the new building next school year, and creating a ‘create your own adventure’ book for six grade students.