By: Brooke Janson
As the end of the school year approaches, students must hand back their laptops while teachers continue to find productive, creative ways to incorporate the use of technology into their lessons.
Next year’s 8th grade class will be using Chromebooks rather than Macbook Airs which will save the district money.
Dr. John Marcus, Assistant Superintendent for Information Systems and Administration, is in charge of the 1:1 program. He says that Chromebooks are not only less expensive than Macbooks, but they allow for much better management and support.
Marcus also says that the 1:1 program has been very successful. “When you compare the level of innovation, engagement, learning opportunities, and other program goals since September, they have all improved,” he said.
“The vast majority of student activity is on task, shows great critical thinking, creativity, and wonderful collaboration. I love checking in with students, asking them what they are working on, and seeing all kinds of amazing writing, research, and hard work,” he added.
Ms. Stacey Newman, Technology Integration Specialist at Sharon High School, is also involved with the program. “The program is still a work in progress that has room for improvement. Some teachers are leveraging the laptops a lot while others are not as much,” she said.
Newman adds that some teachers have trouble changing their lessons to suit laptop use in their classrooms. Some struggle to transform a lecture-based class into an interactive one that incorporates the laptops.
Dr. Jose Libano, principal at Sharon High School, helps to oversee the program. “We’re in our second year here at the high school and I haven’t heard many major complaints of any sort. If students and teachers are using them effectively to teach or to learn from or to use as a valuable resource, I would say it’s successful.”
Marcus says that there are upsides to the program. “Students are working together, writing quietly on their own, researching on the library stairs or during rehearsal or before school on the benches. Learning, collaborating, communicating, reading, calculating, are happening all over the place,” he said.
Newman also says that there are upsides to the program. “There is so much more information for our students at their fingertips which means there are a lot more opportunities for research. … There are many creative ways that students can show their knowledge in addition to just writing a paper,” she said.
Newman says that putting down electronics in order to focus can be hard. “There are many kids … who haven’t developed the study skills yet and who are struggling with distractions whether it’s video games or Spotify. A lot of kids say that music helps them study, but for some of them, that’s not true,” she said.
Marcus says that it is important to learn how to use technology in our everyday lives. “We are also trying to get as many seniors as possible involved in bringing a device or purchasing from SPS so we can get SHS as close as possible to 100% covered,” he added.