UPDATE: Since posting this, I’ve done several presentations on the topic. Each one reflects more “skill” on my part.
(From May 2014:) I’ve learned that the most effective way to engage students today is to “put it on a screen”. They are immediately interested and eager to try. Yet with the challenges of getting devices into the hands of our youngest students, how exactly do we do that? In order to prepare children to be “career and college ready” technological proficiency is an implied mandate. Now I’m a HUGE fan of Apple products and my students use iPads and iPods for a wide range of learning applications. I even prefer to use a MacBook for my personal needs. But when it comes to getting a device that students can use to communicate in writing and use for research, I have found that Chromebooks have done the job beautifully in a very cost effective way!
Supplied with only a district issued laptop and projector, I was given the task of re-imagining our gifted service model for 3rd and 4th graders. There was no funding for my program and with only 2 “computer labs” in my building, taking 62 students to the computer lab on a regular basis was out of the question. That’s when I turned to Donor’s Choose. I was able to obtain 8 Chromebooks for my classroom over the course of several months…and when the real learning started to surpass my expectations.
The first benefit was the quick connection to the Internet. Anything online was easily accessible and with battery life lasting all day, we could move around with our devices. But I wanted my students to compose text and be able to collaborate digitally. Google documents was promising, but my first hurdle was getting access for my students. Setting up email/Google accounts was out of the question, so I set up general classroom accounts (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and so on.) This allowed us to create and save documents. I was able to create a document and share it with these accounts. Our first experiments were with my creating a document and share it with these accounts. Then my students could enter text right into the document directly. This was fun, but when several students were on the same document at the same time, it became tricky and accidental deletions occurred. Next we started exploring commenting on the side. This was a huge hit!
As we continued obtaining more Chromebooks, my students relied on them for research for independent study projects, computer programming lessons on code.org, and experimenting with writing their own stories. We also were able to view everyone’s “Passion Projects” through a virtual museum. Then we created an online classroom using Edmodo and they began submitting assignments through the virtual blackboard setting.
Here’s a video demonstrating how I am using our Chromebooks to meet Common Core ELA writing standards: Chromebooks and the Common Core