New technology for students
Christina rolls out one-to-one device initiative
For some middle school students in the Christina School District, coming back to school last week was like a delayed holiday – during their first week of classes after Christmas break, they were handed new computers.
“One of our technology specialists was in the building yesterday and he was walking around and said you could just see the kids cradling their devices,” Dean Ivory, senior director of teaching and learning for the district, said Tuesday. “He asked one of the students, ‘Is that one of those new Chromebooks?’ and she says, ‘Yes, all mine.’ He said she said it with the biggest smile. Those are just small wins.”
The Chromebooks are part of the district’s one-toone device initiative, which aims to provide every student with a computer starting in second grade. The initiative began several years ago when the district purchased iPads for every fifth grader.
For this academic year, each fifth grader has an iPad, sixth and seventh graders have a Chromebooks, and eighth graders have laptops.
The program seeks to bridge the “digital divide” – the separation between students who can easily access a computer and the internet, and those who can’t.
“We made the commitment that we wanted to provide a one-to-one device for all of our students, so that all students in our schools have full access to technology and the benefits of technology when it comes to learning,” Ivory said.
The district developed a five-year plan so that over the next several years – ending in the 2023/24 academic year – all Christina students in grades two through 12 will have access to their own device.
The district is using a federal grant to pay for the program, though Ivory said funds from the referendum tentatively planned for this fall could expedite the process.
The cost is estimated to be between $590,000 and $878,000 per year for the next five years.
“Once a student receives their Chromebook in sixth grade, they will keep that book all through middle school,” he said. “They will turn in at the end of the school year and we’ll do regular maintenance on the device over the summer and make sure it’s ready to go and it’ll be redistributed in the fall, just like any kind of textbook or or any other device.”
The computers have the same firewalls in place as other school technology.
Ivory said the Appoquinimink and Red Clay school districts have already rolled out one-to-one initiatives.
He said that, right now, the laptops are a complement to the classroom, and textbooks are still used. He noted that younger students won’t be on the devices for hours at a time but will be able to use them as another component during reading or math sessions.
“When we’re talking about exploring something in science or talking about something geographically in social studies, [we’re] giving students the ability to be able to pull that up on their device or take them to a link where they can actually see the Grand Canyon or something that maybe they never will have the opportunity to see in person, but they can use technology to investigate that,” he said.
Teachers are undergoing professional development to learn how to integrate the technology into the classroom.
“It’s providing not only the best learning environment for kids, but seeing smiles and really preparing them for life after middle and high school, so they’re college and career ready,” Ivory said. “The world is ever changing, so we’ve got to keep up.”
Eighth-grade students at Kirk Middle School utilize their new laptops during a lesson this week.