(Re) Inventing in Chrome: Final Reflections

As schools worldwide continue to examine the benefits and implications of increased access to technology inside of the classroom, the teachers at DFHS are similarly evaluating our current 1:1 Chromebook initiative while considering next steps for future implementation. Earlier this year, our 9th grade teachers met to identify specific skills that students have gained as a result of the 1:1 initiative (see post from 1/24/14). Recently, those teachers came together for a final reflection and were joined by our 10th grade teachers who are preparing for implementation next year. The teachers worked collaboratively via Google Docs and were given three questions to reflect upon. The questions along with our teachers’ responses are below.

Q1: How was the Chromebook (and Google Drive) used to enhance classroom instruction?

  • Collaboration & Engagement: Students are able to collaborate with their teachers and peers at any time on a given assignment or project. This allows for learning that is more active while ensuring that all students have greater ownership of all work that is produced.
  • Feedback: Teachers are able to provide instant feedback from any location at any time. In this sense, learning becomes ongoing for students and moves beyond the walls of the classroom.
  • Consistency & Equity: By providing all students with access to one device, it is easy for teachers to plan technology-based lessons using a common platform (ex. Google Drive). It also helps to ensure that the playing field is leveled for all students.
  • Access to Information: Students now have a world of information right at their fingertips. This allows teachers to move beyond content acquisition while providing students with opportunities for enrichment, further exploration, and skill development.
  • Differentiation: The possibilities in this area are endless. Teachers can now provide targeted instruction and interventions based on specific gaps in knowledge and skill. Furthermore, assessments can be differentiated, lessons can be enhanced through videos and outside readings, and teachers can easily produce data reports that inform future planning and instruction.

Q2: What specific skills did students gain as a result of this initiative?

Many of the skills identified in the previous post (1/24/14) were once again noted by our teachers. Here are some of the more noteworthy skills identified this time around (in no particular order):

  • Organization: Ongoing use of Google Drive requires that students organize documents and files in folders for each of their classes.
  • Self-Direction: Students are responsible for taking care of their device, making sure it is charged, and having it in class with them each day.
  • Digital Citizenship: This critical 21st century skill becomes implicit due to the ongoing interactions and access that students have. Explicit instruction on proper usage is also important and should be embedded into the existing curriculum.
  • Analysis: Tools such as Google Spreadsheet allow students to analyze, organize, and manage data across the disciplines.
  • Research: The Google Research tool gives students ongoing access to a wide range of online resources, including academic databases. In addition, students can better learn how to verify sources (.com vs. .edu/.gov) when conducting research.
  • Word Processing: Though typically considered to be a “given” in 2014, teachers still find that some students struggle with typing and word processing. The standard keyboard on Chromebooks allows students to develop this critical skill through ongoing use.
  • Writing: Teachers and students can now engage in the writing process like never before. Gone on the days of providing handwritten feedback for students to take home. With Google Docs, teachers provide ongoing feedback in real time that is targeted to the specific writing needs of each student. This helps to make the writing process more interactive, authentic, and meaningful for students.

Q3: What are some practical tips that 9th grade teachers can offer to 10th grade teachers who are just getting started?

Our 9th grade teachers had a great deal of advice and plenty of “war stories” to draw from. Here are the top ten tips that our teachers offered (in no particular order):

  1. Provide a “cheat sheet” of the most commonly used commands. A uniform sheet might be created for grade level teams or for the entire school.
  2. Establish routines and guidelines for all aspects of Chromebook usage. “Chromebook etiquette” is an important aspect of digital citizenship.
  3. Organize folders and assignments by class. Stay on top of this or it can get quickly out of control.
  4. Get students used to revising their writing based on the comments received online. Try to refrain from “over commenting.”
  5. Expect that on any given day someone will not have a device. Always have a backup and/or hard copies when possible.
  6. Have students change the size of the font from 11 to a larger size.
  7. Keep a few extra charging devices in the classroom.
  8. Identify uniform titles for students to name their documents. This will help with organization and retrieval.
  9. Spend time talking about digital citizenship. This critical 21st century skill cannot be over taught.
  10. Ask your students for help! They are very savvy and will want to teach you!

As always, please feel free to comment below with any thoughts, experiences, or advice!

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