This school year the Baldwin-Whitehall School District provided each high-school student with a Chromebook through the 1:1 Initiative. This is not technology for technology's sake. Walter Graves, Principal of Baldwin High School underscores, "The Chromebooks are an instructional tool, just like blackboards were and overhead projectors in previous classroom settings."
Before the arrival of the Chromebooks, computer labs were booked months in advance. Teachers can now use technology in every period. Dr. Janeen Peretin, Director of Information and Instructional Technology, explains, "teachers and students have both noted that they appreciate the paperless environment that using G Suite enables. Students have mentioned that they appreciate carrying fewer books, notebooks, and binders and that they are using the collaborative features of G Suite to work with their peers in ways that were not possible in the past." Screens get a lot of criticism for interfering with human interaction, but screens can bring us together, not just separate us. The Chromebooks facilitate interaction and collaboration among peers and with teachers. Students can work collaboratively in group chats or by editing the same Google Document. Assignments run more smoothly by having everyone on the same page. Resources and assignments are all centrally located for reference and students always know when the deadlines are because they share a common calendar.
Teachers are sharing ideas and innovating with the Chromebooks. Spanish teacher Katie DeFazio uses the Chromebooks to redeem wasted class time: "My students have used their Chromebooks in class as a way to reinforce vocabulary through the use of digital flashcards. This is something I have them do if they finish the assignment a few minutes early." Band Director Greg Steele has taken his class materials exclusively online, "I've been using the Chromebooks to go completely paperless in guitar class. All music, audio files, handouts, etc. are on our guitar class website, which students access daily on their Chromebooks."
Dr. Graves notes that the Chromebooks keep students more engaged and active in the learning process, "Having the devices in their hands allows the students to be more connected with the learning. It really has made it so students literally have their learning in their hands." Students aren't just sitting statically listening to a teacher, but take more ownership of assignments and learning. "Learning is more fun." Dr. Peretin agrees, "Chromebooks are positively impacting their school work with regard to organization, collaboration, and opportunities for creative expression."