Greenport Elementary School fifth-grade teachers Stephanie Pawlik and Stacy Woodhull can hardly imagine conducting a lesson without a Google Chromebook.
For the past five months, all 35 fifth-grade students have used the laptops as part of a pilot program the district implemented.
“Having access to technology throughout the day has made a tremendous difference,” Ms. Pawlik said. “Computers have been a natural tool they reach toward, which is just a fact of their lives.”
Ms. Woodhull said she’s excited to teach her students how to blog about books they’re reading. Ms. Pawlik enjoys teaching students math through counting games like “Sumdog,” which functions like a video game and teaches math with step-by-step help.
[Visit Ms. Pawlik’s fifth-grade class website]
[Scroll down for more photos and a student presentation]
Both teachers also use Google Docs for lesson plans. The free software allows students to share their work with classmates and work collaboratively. Teachers also monitor students’ work remotely and offer help in real time through a “chat” function.
Fifth-graders Ella Mazzaferro, 11, and Ava Torres, 10, said they enjoy having Chromebooks because the devices make learning fun.
“I love writing,” Ava said, “and using the Chromebook makes it easier because my hand doesn’t get tired from writing on paper.”
Since the devices are designed to be used while connected to the Internet, the school first reached out to parents to find out if they had Internet access at home. Each family had home Internet, so the district moved forward with the pilot program.
Elementary school principal Joseph Tsaveras said he met with the district’s technology director Ryan Case and technology coordinator Joe Capuano to create the pilot program. Mr. Tsaveras said the Chromebooks are desirable because the laptops function like iPads.
He also said the technology investment is needed in order to prepare students for the future, which is moving more toward reading digital texts and taking notes electronically.
“It’s a different learning way and style than most people are used to,” Mr. Tsaveras said. “It’s the world students are growing up in. Why wouldn’t we give them the opportunity?”
For the 2014-15 school year, the district is planning to purchase enough Chromebooks for fourth and sixth-graders. Students in grades 7-12 will receive iPads, he said.