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Chromebooks impacting Marion schools in 1st year

Staff writer

As the school year’s first month concludes, Marion principals are pleased with how well Chromebooks have been integrated into the daily flow of education.

“It’s going probably smoother than we were, at some point, concerned about,” middle school principal Missy Stubenhofer said. “We’ve had very few problems. The ones we’ve had have been resolved very quickly.”

With every student in Marion schools grades five and up using Chromebooks in the classroom, it’s making for a different experience.

The $75,000 district purchase resulted in only a $50 deposit charge for parents, which is returned if the Chromebooks make it through the year with minimal damage.

Students previously had access to laptops through the school, but students didn’t have 24-7 access to those, as students in grade seven and above do. The added flexibility has made an impact with teachers.

“Teachers can plan to use computers anytime and they know kids will have access to them,” Stubenhofer said.

It’s helped the school to reduce the amount of paper it’s used, as things that were photocopied in the past can now be shared with students via Google Suite. But it’s gone further than saving paper.

“Our Algebra II teacher, Mr. (Kelly) Robson, has eliminated his textbook,” principal Tod Gordon said. “He’s taken all the problems from the textbook and put them in an email. Students didn’t even check out textbooks.”

Gordon added that an application on the Chromebook eliminates the need for students to purchase graphing calculators, which can sell for higher than $150, depending on the model.

Stubenhofer said her teachers have found an app on the Chromebooks that grades quizzes, saving the effort and giving students immediate feedback.

“The teachers are doing a lot of exploring,” Stubenhofer said. “How can this better engage students? How can it simplify my life as a teacher and get results quicker?

“My teachers are very happy with it.”

Gordon pointed out that kids have spent their whole lives around technology.

“In this day and age, kids are more comfortable with the technology than some of the adults. That’s their life,” he said. “We’re meeting their needs because that’s how they learn.”

Gordon said one lament is that the Chromebooks do not use Microsoft Office programs like Word and Excel, which students are used to, but the Google Suite has similar functioning programs that fill the need.

“The biggest need is access to the Internet, and Chromebooks do a wonderful job of that,” he said.

The Chromebooks were initially only a purchase for seventh grade and higher, but after discussion, it was decided to give Chromebooks to fifth and sixth graders as well. Though, elementary principal Justin Wasmuth said, students leave the Chromebooks at school.

Because their fifth and sixth graders have Chromebooks, the school’s remaining Dell computers can be lent to fourth graders at a one-to-one ratio.

“At our level, it’s good to get them exposed,” Wasmuth said. “Really get them acclimated for what’s coming up for them.”

Last modified Sept. 18, 2014

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