RVHS students receive new Chromebooks
Royal Valley High School students received a late Christmas present this week as each student was issued a Chromebook laptop as part of a new one-to-one technology initiative at the school.
“We’ve been dreaming about this for many years, and it’s exciting that our students will have the same opportunities as others in the county,” said Jim Holloman, building principal.
On Monday and Tuesday, all high school students who had returned a policy form signed by themselves and their parents, received a new Chromebook with the school logo, a power cord and a carrying case.
A Google Chromebook is a laptop that utilizes software from the Internet instead of a hard drive. The machine runs on Google’s Chrome operating system and all information is continually saved as students work. The laptops have built-in access to Google applications such as Gmail, Google Docs and Google Drive.
Each Chromebook has a touch screen and runs on a seven-hour capacity battery, according to Mark Haefke, district technology coordinator.
“We want you to leave the power cord at home and charge the devices in the evenings so they’re ready for school the next day,” Haefke told the freshmen and sophomore classes Tuesday morning before they were each assigned a Chromebook. “The screens are sensitive to light so don’t leave them outside in your car or in the locker rooms.”
Including the power cord and case, each Chromebook cost the district $400, and students are responsible for any damage to the equipment. Students sat through a detailed orientation on how to use the device last semester, and they will have the same device checked out to them throughout their high school career. The laptops will be checked back into the school during summer break.
“We’re confident that the students will take care of their Chromebooks and that it’ll give them a sense of ownership,” Holloman.
In-service days in the district this past year have been used to prepare teachers on the new technology and how to use Google Classroom, which is an application that allows teachers to post assignments, make announcements and answer questions related to the specific class they are teaching. Students can also submit their homework by signing into the application, Haefke said.
“Most teachers are utilizing Google Classroom in one of their classes this semester, and the goal is the expand that to more classes next year. We already have one teacher who is completely paperless and several other teachers who are almost there,” Holloman said. “But we also have many students were are ahead of our teachers when it comes to new technology.”
In September, the USD 337 Board of Education approved a new technology initiative presented by school administrators and members of the district’s “tech team.” The goal of the tech plan is to have a one to two ratio per iPad for elementary students, a one to one ratio per Chromebook, other laptops and iPads at the middle school and a one to one ratio per Chromebook for high school students.
In the following months, 120 iPad tablets for the elementary school were purchased, as well as 140 Chromebooks for the middle school and 300 Chromebooks for the high school.
At the middle school, seventh- and eighth-grade students will begin to be assigned a Chromebook next week for use at the school, and the devices will be checked out and returned daily at the school. Students will not leave school grounds with them, it was reported.
Students in grades five and six will be provided Apple MacBooks (which the district already owns) to use during class, and those laptops will be returned at the end of each class period.
The district’s “tech team” was formed in the past few years and is made up of staff members and administrators from all three RV schools. The team has meet regularly to discuss the technology needs of the district and was one of the driving forces behind the new technology initiative, Haefke and Holloman said.
“The tech team has such great ideas and includes some young staff members with a passion for technology in the classroom,” Holloman said. “We also want to thank the board for graciously carrying out the new tech plan.”
The new technology will allow for more and different opportunities to learn and teach in the district.
“Our teachers and students are excited to be a part of something new,” Haefke said. “It’s a new chapter.”