New tech­nol­ogy for stu­dents

Christina rolls out one-to-one de­vice ini­tia­tive

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By BROOKE SCHULTZ [email protected]­pub.com

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.”

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY BROOKE SCHULTZ

Eighth-grade stu­dents at Kirk Mid­dle School uti­lize their new lap­tops dur­ing a les­son this week.

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