Chromebooks become home books

Champion Middle School students to take laptops home

Tribune Chronicle photos / Jon Wysochanski Skylar Scarnecchia, a sixth-grader at Champion Middle School, uses a Google Chromebook in science class Wednesday. The district has given each student in grades fourth through eighth a Chromebook to use in class and to take home.

CHAMPION — The days of receiving a hardcover textbook at the beginning of the school year that students sign on the inside cover are numbered as more districts are moving to paperless forms of instruction.

Students at Champion Middle School are all taking home Google Chromebooks, which district staff says will better prepare them for a future in a technological world. Superintendent Pamela Hood said the district spent $106,720 to purchase 460 of the devices from Illinois-based CDW Corporation.

Parents and students packed the Champion Middle School cafeteria earlier this week, where they were briefed by technology coordinator Celeste Tripoulas on the rules and regulations of taking home the devices. Until recently, the district only had Chromebooks for students to share in classrooms, but now several hundred students at Champion Middle School have their own devices.

Several hundred parents wrote out $35 checks for insurance on the devices and were told the rules their children must follow when working at home. Students can’t leave the devices unattended or loan them out to anyone, and they must bring the Chromebooks to school fully charged and ready for use. The district also filters student accounts and any student who attempts to use their device for non-educational purposes, or who violates rules of conduct, must relinquish it.

Tripoulas said giving each student in grades 4-8 a Chromebook is a huge step for the district. She said the sooner a middle school student can begin to use technology the better, and a tech-savvy student will one day be a tech-savvy member of the workforce.

“With 21st-century learning, all professions require people to know technology,” she said. “We are moving away from textbook, more toward technology and preparing our students for the future.”

Prinicipal Heather Campbell said students use the Chromebooks to do paperless lessons, collaborate with their peers by sharing documents and prepare for state tests, which are all online.

“Technology is here and it is the future,” Campbell said. “If students do not have such technology in their hands, they are at a disadvantage because districts all across the state have this.”

Kim Strimple, whose daughter Caitlyn Strimple is in eighth grade, said she thinks giving each student a Chromebook teaches lessons outside the classroom, too.

“Not only does it allow them access to school work at home, it also teaches the kids responsibility,” Kim Strimple said. “They are responsible for these devices, it is something that is under their care and they have to keep track of it at all times.”

Campbell said having information at one’s fingertips saves time rather than spending hours searching for information, and students can come to the classroom ready to receive more instructional time. But Campbell doesn’t think students are losing anything by having so much information at their fingertips instead of gathering information with tools like dictionaries and encyclopedias.

“There is still direct instruction, the teacher is still in front of them answering questions and they still have traditional ways of learning,” Campbell said. “There still is value in learning the old ways because technology doesn’t always work.”

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