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Chromebook Article 1

“Brave New World”

As the bell rings for students to make their way to class on a Friday morning, the air is full of anticipation for the Friday night ballgame and the events of the day ahead. Students shuffle down the hall with friends, books, binders, and Chromebooks.  At first glance, the Chromebooks almost seem out of place among bundles of books and binders. While science fiction movies portray civilizations taken over by technology that prevents people from communicating with one another, teachers and students have found Chromebooks to do the opposite at Coalfield High School. 

Planning and Fine-tuning

As far as teaching goes, what happens in a classroom has always been the “tip of the iceberg.” Planning a lesson consumes more time than the delivery in class. Even with Chromebooks, teachers continue to plan and teach lessons much as they have done in the past, intellectually. But Chromebooks have added many opportunities. 

“Lesson plans have changed to include more technology components,” says Mike Smith. Smith, who teaches high-school science at Coalfield, uses Google Classroom to provide students with resources such as links to relevant websites and articles presenting various aspects of current events in ecology. Alongside class lectures and discussions, students access these resources in class and incorporate them in to projects like research papers and class presentations. Likewise, Paul Brown, high-school (and elementary school) music teacher reflects, “My plans haven’t changed drastically. I have slowly been integrating the Chromebooks into my plans, maybe using them for a quarter of the class time.” Mr. Brown has uploaded music files and accompanying presentation notes to Google Classroom for his students to learn and review independently, in addition to his traditional in-class instruction.

While this shift may have a direct impact on teachers, new tools and actions are most meaningful when they impact students. “I have found that I am allowing students to [own] more of the work,” says high-school social studies teacher Jeremy Lowe. He continues, “I think that my lesson plan[s] have shifted that way.” This level of engagement and expectation is not about the tools themselves. "They have made a great impact on student understanding,” says Mike Smith. 

As student-teacher collaboration continues, Mr. Brown notices that “students have been motivated by the devices, and almost all of the feedback I’ve received from them has been positive—that they much prefer the Chromebook over paper and pencil for written work.” 

Growing a Culture

While not every student is optimistic about the new tools at this early stage, they still agree that the tools positively impact their learning. If students are now able to use many of the tools their teachers are using, they feel more empowered. New tools offer new choices. For instance, they enjoy the small things, like being able to listen to music while completing an assignment. When freshman Colton Murphy was asked if the music distracts him, he quickly responded, “No, it helps me focus.” While this is not always the case, it is a small example of student motivation. 

But it’s not all about fun and games. Students are more engaged than ever with meaningful and relevant work. Resources like Google Classroom challenge students to engage at a new level. Jennifer Justice says her high-school students “are excited about all the tools they have available to them” in both English and math classes, as they read articles containing complex text and begin conducting more complex math work with the new hardware. Jeremy Lowe echoes that his students “read articles, create Google Slide presentations, and share them with each other” so they can edit their work as they collaborate face-to-face.

These new tools have had a positive impact on both students and teachers already. “I am forever learning from my colleagues on how to make this tool more adaptable for my classroom use,” says Sarah Shanks, Human Ecology and RTI teacher. Shanks is optimistic that the Chromebooks and their related tools “open more dialogue” among teachers and students. In our professional learning communities—our schools—it is about teaching and learning, for both students and teachers. The future is bright. If a Friday is this good, what does next week have in store?

Displaying Jeremy Lowe's class - Bradley & Alex.jpg

Sophomore Bradley Northern (left) opts to complete his test review with textbook and pencil, 

while freshman Alex Blalock (right) is conducting research on his Chromebook.

Displaying Jeremy Lowe's class - whole class.jpg

Mr. Jeremy Lowe looks on as his students review for an upcoming test. 

Most students choose to use Chromebooks for the assignment, while others have 

opted for paper-and-pencil notetaking.

Displaying Tamara Brewer's class - 9-8-16--coding.jpg

Mrs. Tamara Brewer monitors her students’ problem-solving abilities as they

 progress through online coding challenges on their Chromebooks.