Chromebooks in Middle School!
Billings recently purchased 30 Google Chromebooks for a pilot program across all three grade levels (6,7, & 8). We were looking for an easy and fast way for students to access web-based resources and since we’re a Google Apps for Ed school, Chromebooks made sense for us. So far the Chromebooks have been a rousing success. The kids have been using them in a variety of different classes; from science to geography to language arts to math.
Catherine, our 7th grade Geography teacher has been using the Chromebooks a lot in her classes. She comments, “the Chromebooks have put geography tools at my students’ fingertips and allow them to work simultaneously, but at their own speed. Doing so means kids can form a deeper understanding. For instance, while taking a Google Maps “tour” of Washington State, kids were able to develop the important navigating skills at their own pace, insuring the mastery of those skills. As I moved around the room, I could show more advanced tools to those who had already achieved the objectives of the lessons.”
Linda, 6th and 8th grade Language Arts teachers is excited about the mobility the Chromebooks provide. This allows students to work in comfortable spaces. The Chromebooks also allow for quick and easy research or other online activity (they log on in seconds).
But, in the interest of being fair, we have had some (minor) challenges with the Chromebooks. The touch pads are a little finicky at times and some kids have difficulty navigating sites like Google Maps. We’ve also found that at times the kids are tempted to play around online more with the Chromebooks because of their mobility (maybe they feel like no one is watching them work?) Now, these are not problems that don’t have relatively easy solutions. USB or Bluetooth mice are pretty inexpensive these days, and classroom management and boundaries are a reality with any tool.
Overall, it seems like the Chromebooks are a great tool for many classes so far. We’ll see how things go, but hopefully, we’ll continue to move forward. I’ll check in again as the school year continues.
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