Chromebooks introduced for classroom use


Students in Ms. Michal Cohan’s English class use Google Chromebooks to work collaboratively on class assignments, research, and writing by sharing documents with each other through the Google Drive. The Chromebooks were recently purchased through a district-wide initiative by the technology department.

Madeline Fagen, Assistant News Editor

Through a district-wide technology department initiative, Port schools are implementing Google Chromebook laptop and Google Apps for Education in classrooms.

Mr. Ryan Meloni, Director of Technology, has plans to update the district technology infrastructure.

“I’m sure over time we’re going to see a complete shift in the way we share files and data and that we’ll move away from school storage and into this type of cloud storage,” said Assistant Principal Mr. David Miller.

Last year, after evaluating the district’s technology, an administrative decision was made to update technology.

“We wanted to create an instructional resource like the Google Chromebooks that the teachers can bring into the classroom that allows students to work collaboratively on a presentation, a document, a spreadsheet, or research,” said Mr. Meloni.  “They can produce and share documents with the teacher so they can review them, score them, and give advice on how to make it better.”

The initial decision was made partly because of educational need resulting from the new Common Core standards.  The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, an organization working to develop a common curriculum  for English and Math teachers in various states,  is implementing a computer-based assessments system that delivers information on student knowledge that teachers can use to help inform instruction.

Because these assessments and other surveys like them are likely to multiply in the future and play an important role in education, the district saw the inexpensive Google Chromebooks as a good fit.

“I think there’s great potential for what it does for the school and for the future.  It will eventually allow us to communicate school wide without paper, flash drives, and all of the things that, in a way, weigh us down right now,” said Principal Mr. Ira Pernick.

Currently, Schreiber has three carts of 30 Chromebooks, Weber has two carts, each elementary school has one cart, and there are two more carts definitely on the way for this year.  The carts, stored in three separate locations throughout the school, can be reserved in the same manner a teacher would request a computer lab.  Every student has been registered for Google accounts based upon their school ID number for Chromebook and Google Drive use.

A significant amount of training is being provided to the teachers beginning to use the Chromebooks and Google Drive online document storage and sharing system.  Principals from each school in the district identified about three “building experts” to form the first group of educators to learn about the new initiative.  They were given three days of training on the Chromebooks.  The next group, also identified by the building principals, were “early adopters.” These are teachers who are willing to try the new technology out in their classrooms, receiving one day of instruction.

“These training sessions focused on using the various aspects of Google Chrome and the Chromebooks in different content areas and capacities in the classroom,” said building expert and English teacher Ms. Michal Cohan.

Ms. Cohan, along with Schreiber’s second building expert, science teacher Mr. Thom Johnson, has already begun classroom instruction using the Chromebooks.

“My classes have been using the Chromebooks for short quizzes, writing, and researching,” said Ms. Cohan.  “Students have been able to work collaboratively by sharing documents with each other.  During class, students also share their documents with me, so I am able to work with them on their writing in real time.”

During class time, students type their ideas and thoughts while working on files simultaneously with their peers.  This is considered especially beneficial for English classes.

“I’ve been in a couple of classrooms where the use of Google Drive has begun creating really engaging, powerful conversations,” said Mr. Pernick.  “What I’ve found most compelling is how the students treat each other when they are seeing each other’s work.  There’s nothing but positive discussions.”

These new methods of supporting traditional teaching enhance classroom practices, hopefully allowing higher levels of education to be attained.

“There appears to be a dearth of technology at Schreiber High School as compared to schools in other districts,” said sophomore Andrew Gruber.  “In any given classroom, there is only one computer.  The addition of the Chromebooks to our school’s technology service allows more students to access research materials and other means of bettering education.”

Mr. Meloni has a  long-term plan for the district, which will be officially revealed on Jan. 8.

“We are looking to expand it and bring in thousands of new devices for teachers and students across the district over the next three to five years,” said Mr. Meloni. “I got a lot of good stuff that I cannot wait to share with the community.”