Teachers at a Davenport school are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet… with a tool they use every day.
At Smart Intermediate, students are substituting regular books for Chromebooks.
The Google Chromebook is a fast and inexpensive laptop that is transforming the way teachers teach and students learn. Everything is on it — including lessons, homework, and projects — and it’s all online for easy access.
“It’s just taking all those really good instructional tools that we know and then it’s making it 21st century and it’s taking it to the next level,” says Associate Principal, Ben Driscoll.
He says students at Smart are using the Chromebooks in every grade — 6th, 7th, and 8th — and nearly every subject, including Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, and Reading.
“What you and I were learning when we were growing up — the memorization of facts and stuff — that’s gone,” Driscoll says. “Now it’s higher order of thinking. It’s more creative thinking, so it’s — We’re going to give you this problem. We’re going to give you this project and then how can this tool enhance that?”
Students use the tool for individual work and group projects. They can “share” their work with others in their class and also with their teacher, like 8th Grade Reading Teacher Marissa Heneghan, who uses it for test prep.
“It has the same type of questions that will be on the test, but it’s set up so that if they answer one of the core questions wrong then it’s going to take them to another page for extra practice,” she says.
The automatic answers allow teachers to give faster feedback.
“Before, if they turn something in usually it would take a day to get it back to them,” Heneghan says. “Now, I can look at everybody’s work right away throughout the class.”
Students say they are learning more and learning faster. They say they like the technology more than paper and pen.
“It helps me learn more and it gives you more of an opportunity to focus on other things instead of having to write it all and be stressed out,” says Jami Rodriguez, a 7th Grader.
“If it’s a group project, you just share the document with the people that are in your group and you can all work on it together and it’s way easier,” says Alex Russell, a 7th Grader.
Driscoll says the Davenport Community School District wants to expand the Chromebooks program to all students. The laptops are less expensive than laptops and are primarily paid for with federal funds.