By Dr. Renee Zoladz, Associate Superintendent
The 2016 – 2017 school year has brought a new level of student engagement to our classrooms in District 127. All freshman and sophomore students are participating in a 1:1 Chromebook program this year. This unprecedented access to learning beyond the classroom walls has been exciting for our staff and students.
Having the 24/7 access to learning has meant that teachers can create lessons that allow all students (not just those students with laptops/tablets that they brought from home) to access online resources, notes, and assignments. Students are able to produce more “polished” work and collaborate with others both in the classroom and afterschool. Students are better able to manage the workflow of school, reduce paperwork, and receive more immediate feedback from teachers through Schoology and Google Docs. Technology has not replaced the teacher or the art of teaching but is a tool that has taken learning beyond the fifty-minute class period to learning anytime and anywhere for District 127 students.
Recently I had the opportunity to visit an Algebra classroom. Students were using their Chromebooks to work on problems in groups using the touchscreen on the Chromebook and a RealTime Board application to collaborate as an entire class. At the end of the math lesson, the teacher’s notes were uploaded to Schoology for students to have as a resource for studying, homework, and test review. Gone are the days of the misplaced notebook or work assignment as all of the work is now saved in the cloud.
Additional subject areas are also leveraging the Chromebook as a tool to enhance learning. In an art classroom, the teacher has her students blogging about artists and their interpretation artwork. Other students in the class can comment, ask questions, or even challenge a student’s interpretation with their own. World Language, Science, and Reading classes are using Quizlet to learn vocabulary as the students create and share their ideas with the rest of the class. In Social Studies classes some teachers are using QR codes to provide students with web resources, students are making videos, creating digital brochures, and allowing their classmates to ask questions about their various topics of study. The 1:1 Chromebook program provides opportunities for students to engage with content at a deeper level, use their time more effectively, and collaborate with others both in and out of the classroom.
Overall this new instructional tool is preparing our students with the skills they need in school and beyond by fostering more communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity in our classrooms.