Many people fear that computer usage in the early elementary years consists solely of playing games and want to limit the screen time. However, implementing effective technology is really not any different from writing, reading and math. There are building blocks and foundations that need to be constructed in order for students to become efficient and capable lifelong users of technology.
Fourth grade teachers Wes Downing, Crystal Holland, Andrea Richardson, Samantha Voss, and Sarah Jane Kimball have made these realizations and have embraced the concept of changing their classrooms and implementing a 1:1 program. With full support of the administration, their students are flourishing through using Chromebooks, Google Classroom, and a multitude of technology skills and tools. Rather than listening to my rambles, please read the words straight from the mouth of Wes Downing.
I had witnessed Chromebooks in action at my previous school (when I worked in Florida) and thought they would be a wonderful way for Cassidy to apply for our RFP grant. We knew the Chromebooks were affordable, but also reliable. Luckily, when I presented the idea to my administration, they backed us 100% and even put up some extra money to make the entire grade level completely 1:1 (the grant covered 107 chrome books and we needed 120). Having the support of administration makes all of the difference in the world!
The Chromebooks have completely changed how we run our classrooms. First of all, there is large amount of built-in engagement that goes along with all of the students having chrome books. The students have really taken ownership of the devices. They are really invested in the devices and work hard to follow directions and be responsible so they can continue having the privilege of using the devices.
Chromebooks have allowed us to streamline teacher to student communication, as well as communication between students. Students use email to talk to teachers and parents during the day. Students post questions and comments on Google Classroom and can respond to each other, without teacher assistance. Assignments can be assigned, created, and submitted using the chrome books, allowing teachers to spend more time working with students and less time grading, searching for work, etc.
Most parents also love the Chromebooks. It has taken them a little bit of time to get used to the differences they present, but most love looking at student work or online assessments students have been working on.
The Chromebooks also make it easy for us to differentiate for our students. There are lots of online programs we use, but we also have the ability to pick and choose what our kids are working on, without the hassle of making copies for all the kids, etc. We can assign them all different skills to practice or leveled readers to read, all with a few clicks of a button.
Programs we use include LiveSchool (behavior), Google Drive and other Google Apps, Write to Learn, NoRedInk, IXL and many more.
Next Steps for us will be to “flip” the classroom and allow students to drive our classroom discussions, as well as give students the freedom to create their own methods of responding to questions or completing assignments. We are working towards more student ownership, and hope to continue to grow in this area.