Before entering in to a full 1:1 rollout, we did a pilot program last year with ten classrooms at the Senior High. Ten teachers each had a set of Chromebooks to use in their classroom. We did this for a number of reasons but obviously, this let us test the water on a smaller scale before doing a full rollout.
So what became of those carts now that you are 1:1? Good question! Six of those carts went to the Middle School (5-6 grade) and four carts went to four of our elementary buildings. In the last month I have helped get the Chromebooks ready for delivery and then train the teachers who will be using them. Getting the Chromebooks ready meant powerwashing every device and re-enrolling them in our domain as well as organizing them in the carts. I have spent a lot of time in Chromebook carts this month!
Because we are a Google Apps for Education district and our teachers are pretty well versed at using Chrome, training on the Chromebook was minimal. If you can use the Chrome browser, you can use a Chromebook. But there are a few little nuances to using a Chromebook that I do need to go over with teachers (students will probably pick this up much faster). For example, to scroll up and down on a Chromebook, use two fingers on the touchpad and move them up and down. This is a new tip for many first time Chromebook users and many are glad to get this tip after struggling to scroll up and down! And to right click on a Chromebook, two finger tap on the touchpad. We talk about tap to click and the fact that you do not need to physically depress the touchpad to click on a link. (Check out my Chromebook Classroom site for more tips.)
Which elementary classrooms will be using the Chromebooks? Primarily 3rd and 4th grade classrooms although that does vary from building to building. Could students younger than 3rd grade use a Chromebook? Sure. The difficulty becomes in accessing the Chromebook. Students must enter their username (email address) and password to access the device the first time. After that, they just need to put in their password. Our student email addresses are set up as firstname.lastname@example.org which is a lot to remember! So for now, we are going to stick with 3rd and 4th grade.
So what will our 3-6 teachers be using the Chromebooks for? When I asked them this, most of them immediately said for Wonders tests or for IXL Math or for Spelling City. This will make it easier for teachers to get tests done at these sites or for students to practice. Each elementary building has one traditional computer lab which can be hard to get in to. Elementary classrooms have one or two desktop computers in the classroom and most have some iPads to use for these things. The addition of the Chromebooks will allow more students to practice/test at the same time.
I am hoping that our teachers will start Googling with their students also. Fourth grade will be a perfect time to introduce Google Docs for writing short papers or Google Slides for doing presentations. We might not be there yet but maybe by the end of the year I might cajole some 4th grade teachers into this. Baby steps right now!
What about your 7th and 8th grade? We are in our second year of an iPad 1:1 at the Junior High. Each student has an iPad to use during school. Right now, some 8th grade students take the device home. The JH was not interested in adding Chromebooks to their building at this time. If teachers want students to use a traditional computer, there are computer labs available in the library for teachers to reserve. Students at the Junior High are still using Chrome and Google Drive and Google Classroom--they are doing it on an iPad instead of a Chromebook.
But enough about Chromebooks. I think I might switch gears in my next post and talk about something else. And I have Craig Badura and Bob Dillon to thank for my next post. Read Craig's post here. Until next time!
Our first fourth grade classroom used the Chromebooks for the first time yesterday! Woot woot!