Educators themselves at home with Chrome

by Bob Gaetjens | Editor Published:

Streetsboro -- For the legions of former high school students who remember typing, writing essays out by hand or tangling with dot matrix printers to print them out, today's classes would feel quite foreign. 

With the acquisition this year of 330 new Chromebooks, the Google-made laptops that excel at playing host to Google apps, the district is taking a big step toward digital learning. That $85,000 to $90,000 purchase gives the district about 450 Chromebooks total, said Steve Cain, the district's technology director. The money came from the district's permanent improvement fund.

Director of Curriculum Aireane Curtis said the volume of new Chromebooks makes a significant difference to teachers when it comes to logistics.

Now, more teachers can use computers for lessons more often than in the past, when they were limited by the number of computers available.

"It allows us to do so many things with the kids," she said. "In the elementary buildings, the computer lab was an actual class."

There were three or four open periods per week in the computer labs at Wait Primary School, Campus Elementary School and Henry Defer Intermediate School, she said. The rest of the time, the labs were taken up by computer classes.

Campus Elementary School teacher Jenni Markey said the district uses Google's suite of productivity applications and other apps, as well.

"We have a Google domain, so every kid has a Google account, and they have to use their Google account to sign in to the Chromebooks," she said.

She said third-graders can only email their teachers, and, as they age, they gain additional freedom to email others, including other students.

Markey said special permission can be granted for specific lessons if younger students need to be able to email one another.

In addition to the standard applications that come with every Google account -- a word processor, spreadsheet, drawing program, data base, presentation program (similar to PowerPoint) and an application for creating forms -- there are many free apps designed for education.

One brand-new application that Streetsboro High School teacher language arts teacher Molly Klodor has adopted this year is Google Classroom. She said the application enables her to create folders for each of her classes and subfolders for each student. Instead of turning in homework in paper form, students submit their assignments online. It also enables students to collaborate on assignments from their own homes.

"For them, most all of their homework is digital," she said. There is still class work that's done by hand, she added.

There also are sections for posting comments, videos and any other type of file one can load on to Google Drive, the company's online storage offering.

"It allows the discussion that's part of class to extend beyond the classroom," she said.

Once assignments are turned in, Klodor said she can comment on and grade assignments. From there, she exports a CSV file with the grades, then imports them into her gradebook, which also is computer-based.

Markey said she spent time this summer in a Google Boot Camp, where she learned about apps educators would find useful.

One app she said she likes is Pear Duck, which she can use to conduct pop quizzes in which each student fills in the answers on a Chromebook. After students complete the quiz, Markey said the teacher gets instant feedback about students' knowledge on a given topic.

"I've used it at the beginning of a unit, for instance in social studies, where you might ask, 'Is Rosa Parks a civil rights leader?'" she said. "If everybody in class knows Rosa Parks is a civil rights leader, I don't need to spend time on that in class."

Curtis said there are numerous apps available to teachers, and it really depends on the age of the students and subject areas which ones teachers will choose to use.

It's important for teachers to be trained on Google apps, too, said Curtis.

"When you have 3- and 4-year-olds who know how to use an iPad, you better have adults that can pick that up," she said. "Some of it's been us providing professional development to teachers; some of it's been teachers finding things out and sharing it with their building and team."

Email: bgaetjens@recordpub.com

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  • If you ask me, I think the person's expression in the picture says it all.

    Think about it teachers, reducing staff size,  increasing the influx of money as a result, increasing the class size, computerizing the students could equate to maybe a $5000.00 to $7000.00 dollar raise in just one year.  You skills at technology would move you into the next realm of teachers and becoming more valuable to the education system.

    No more taking homework home to grade, no redundant entering grades in gradebooks, no more reports for they are easily and automatically generated by the computer system, more time with your family, instant results on tests, streamling the education to fit the student, and the pro's go on and on. Having the ability to understand what it is they didn't understand while still in the classroom rather than a week later when it's too late, instant student gratification.

    Educating students would become and easy task with great results.

    In the mean time, while we eventually get there, we have students who are losing interest and classes, maybe not all, but some that are a little difficult to control. 

    Martin Fleming

     

    Martin Fleming

  • And Doc, you're right about that 5 year plan.  If we continue on without making some major changes really soon rather than the snails pace we are now, the two renewals will not be able to sustain the pressure of the coming budgets.  Sure they're projections and sometimes they projections can fall short of the actual cost.  Now is the time to really begin trimming the cost to make sure we can go on.

    The trimming of the cost based on the scenario I have given would forego the need of renewing the levies.

    When the fund from the current levies run dry, our loss may only be around 2 or 2.5 million and with 5 million in the black now, it would be a good time to get the wheels greased and moving to avoid what is coming ahead if we continue on.  7 million is an estimated figure and I believe it is conservative of the real savings.  I may lose 2.5 but I gain 4.5.  Think about it.  It is plausible.

    Martin Fleming

     

  • Besides you asked for my plan on how we would be able to afford outfitting all the students with computers.  See we don't have the spend the millions you thought we had to!

    Martin Fleming

  • Doc54,

    Asking you that question has a lot to do about the subject.

    We are talking about educating our children of the community.  It helps give a baseline of how you think.

    All the topics are relative to the children and what is possible to do for them.

    But I guess I'll entertain you. 

    I guess you either don't believe or understand what you are seeing around you.

    I notice children deep in thought at times on their Tablets, Cell Phones and Notebook computers.

    I understand that some if not most of the students in the classroom are permitted to use those tablets, cell phones and notebooki computers while some don't have access to a computer in the classroom.  How does that equalize education for all the students in the classroom?  How does not having a computer or internet access at home give all the students the same advantage?  If they have 450 Chrome Notebooks in our high school now, we would only need 250 to outfit all the high school students.  We spent $90,000.00 on 330. can't we spend an additional $57,000 to outfit all the students?

    I sure would feel better getting an individual computer assigned to each student.

    It would cost $50.00 a year per student for ACE Academy, freedom from the printed, lost, mangled, repaird and have to be put in storage paper medium.  If we got rid of printed textbooks over digital, look at the cost savings.

    So little for so much.

    Oh, by the way, I have been seeing many using wireless up there utilizing the schools network for internet access for a couple of years now.  Maybe you didn't notice.  It wasn't all over but it was there.  There was also some servers and switches they received a few years ago from a dominant company.  I was looking them over just after they were installed.

    Maybe you were out of the loop?

    Besides Doc54 (Bwood54), it would be interesting to see if you walk the walk versus talk the talk if you signed your real name for everyone to know who you are.  Maybe you're one of those who says one thing here and the opposite in public. 

    So how does one know whether or not your playing devils advocate?

    Martin Fleming

    Martin Fleming

  • Come on Doc54, I'm trying to build a rapore and understanding.  I may be able to address some issues to your differently and maybe you will be better able to explain your posts.

    Martin Fleming

  • Doc54,

    Asking you that question has a lot to do about the subject.

    We are talking about educating our children of the community.  It helps give a baseline of how you think.

    All the topics are relative to the children and what is possible to do for them.

    But I guess I'll entertain you. 

    I guess you either don't believe or understand what you are seeing around you.

    I notice children deep in thought at times on their Tablets, Cell Phones and Notebook computers.

    I understand that some if not most of the students in the classroom are permitted to use those tablets, cell phones and notebooki computers while some don't have access to a computer in the classroom.  How does that equalize education for all the students in the classroom?  How does not having a computer or internet access at home give all the students the same advantage?  If they have 450 Chrome Notebooks in our high school now, we would only need 250 to outfit all the high school students.  We spent $90,000.00 on 330. can't we spend an additional $57,000 to outfit all the students?

    I sure would feel better getting an individual computer assigned to each student.

    It would cost $50.00 a year per student for ACE Academy, freedom from the printed, lost, mangled, repaird and have to be put in storage paper medium.  If we got rid of printed textbooks over digital, look at the cost savings.

    So little for so much.

    Oh, by the way, I have been seeing many using wireless up there utilizing the schools network for internet access for a couple of years now.  Maybe you didn't notice.  It wasn't all over but it was there.  There was also some servers and switches they received a few years ago from a dominant company.  I was looking them over just after they were installed.

    Maybe you were out of the loop?

    Martin Fleming

  • Wow you really just can't hold a coherent thought long enough to state your case plainly and succinctly or to do it in an efficient enough manner for anyone to be willing to read all the way through it.

    The wireless in the District was installed last year; I was at the board meeting where the donation of the network equipment that made it possible was accepted check the board meeting minutes.

    As to the rest of your statements we obviously have differing opinions, I base mine on reality, life experience and verifiable facts. From what I have read of yours, you rely heavily on conjecture and extrapolation.

    Finally as in many of your other posts you try to bring unrelated matters into the discussion but I will tell you that my opinion on the legalization of marijuana has no more place in this discussion than yours does. If this article were written about that subject it would merit discussion but it was not so try to stay on subject please.

  • Doc54,

    Are you brave enough to answer this one question for me?

    Do you believe the State of Ohio should put on the ballot legalization of the use of medical marijuanna?

    Martin Fleming

  • Let me give you an anology, suppose you have two architects.  One who excels at building homes from grass and sticks and even though nowhere close to an expert, he also built one or two conventional homes.  Another one, this one excels at building high quality homes.  There are some differences between the two.  However, the guy who builds from grass and sticks, costs you a third to twice as much and is really slow at learning new methods.

    We have some land where we want 20 quality homes built.  Do you hire the one who excels at building quality homes or the one who excels at grass homes?

    Of course you would take the less expensive and higher qualified. 

    We have teachers who really excel at using technology to their advantage and we have those who just manage to get by.  It is the just managing to get by that is the anchor.  Both the student, the other teachers and society.  I hate to say that but, the reality is that is what it is. 

    I highly respect the senior teachers but their methods and lack of really efficient use of technology is nothing more than a hinderance to the education system.  It is a reality.  If they had kept up with technology (beyond using a smart phone or IPhone), I wouldn't have a problem but alas you can tell.

    Today's technology student needs challenges that cannot be met or achieved with the situation where we are in now.  we are moving forward but at what cost to where we could be if we just do it.

    20 nations are above us in Science and Math.  How many more will be above us the be next year and the year after that and where will that leave our nation in the future?

    I would rather see us reduce the teaching staff, provide a raise to keep the ones we have left and we will still be able to achieve some remarkable results.  I'd be will to give those who are left a $7 to $10,000 dollar raise.  We would still be in the black.

    Cost saving all around would be experience especially getting rid of all those old energy gobbling desktops and CRT monitors.

    Martin Fleming

  • Doc54,

    You said before I was Chicken Little running around telling you the sky is falling.

    Those people who objected to birth control of the late 50's and 60's, well, their wanings came true.  Those who didn't think pollution in the air (just like you do with the asphalt plant), back in the 40's, 50's, 60' and early 70's was a danger, learned and found out there was more damage being done out there than they thought.  If it wasn't true, then we wouldn't have the test stations in Stow-Kent and Ravenna.  End result was cleaner air.  Now that we have achieved cleaner air, they want to put a school next to an asphalt plant and I couldnt' care less if it was putting out only 1 tenth of 1% of what they are allowed.  It is something we should not risk with anybody's life.  People who work there choose to do so and accept the dangers just as Military, Police and Firefighters do. But to place them in the vicinity because we are going to make them, now that's another story.

    Your thoughts appear anitquated and out of touch of what is possible in today's technology world. 

    And just like I said, they are amazed at the abilities of the 3 and 4 year olds now, and the technology has been available for over 5 years now, what do you think the 8 to 12 year olds are thinking at the lack of technology and the boredom it creates?

    There are teachers who realize the dream, we are 5 million to the good and the cost to outfit all the children now is there and we'ed be fullish to let the opportunity and chance to slip by when we are so well to the good.  Take the bull by the horn and make it happen.  If we wait much longer, the opportunity may never surface again.  We will loose that money because the Unions will begin to get nervous. 

    My Grand Daughter came hold and told me a teacher feels the levies should be passed for he makes too much money and he has to pay considerably more to get his daughter through college, so he needs more.  I estimated this particular teacher is making $56,000 or more plus benefits, while there are families who don't make that with both working.  So that's why we should pass the renrewals.  Think about that one folks.  Guess that is adapting to and enforcing the arrogance of the school board.

    We have the money, we have the technology in place, we have teachers that are not where they should be with technology and we need to let them move on so we can move forward.  It's all about the kids.  It's all about our future.  Do what is right by the children. 

    Martin Fleming

  • Doc54, Your "Great news that the District has added all of these resources for the students to use." is really indicative of you being out of touch and realizing where we really should be today.

    Just think of all the money we have wasted so far.  But I am really sure you don't see that.

    Martin Fleming

  • Doc54,

    I have researched this time and time again with the district for the past 15 years or more.  10 years ago, with the equipment they currently had it would have cost them nearly 3.5 million to equip every student. 3 years ago, with the advancement in technology with their current system in place, most of it, it would have cost around $900,000.00 to outfit the district.  The only thing that was lacking 5 years ago was ACE Academy and 3 years ago access to the courses Ohio offered digitally.

    Our only missing piece at this point is getting a computer in every students hand. 

    I know you may be retired but that is no reason to not really study the world around you, what students are doing today.  What children are doing today.

    So when they say children 3 and 4 are using these devices, daily, 365 days a year and then you put them in an evironment void of them, you see that as an advantage.  If you didn't, you wouldn't had made claims of millions and millions.   I think you might want to go out to Staples or Office Max and see what is out there.  See the pricing.  I mean really see it.  And when it comes to education, deep discounts can be had.

    It likes the Geico commercial, everyone knows that.

    Martin Fleming

  • Doc54,

    Since you seem to have a problem with math I'll help you out a little here.

    The school district has had wireless for several years now.  The school district is also connected to the State of Ohio for digital courses (around 350) and with ACE Acadamy for courses (around 250) which allows us to have digital access for grades 1 - 12. 

    As stated above (and I'll take the higher number) they spent $90,000.00 on 330 notebooks.  With 2200 students in the district (approx.) it would cost an additional $477,750.00 to outfit every student from here.

    In regards to students needing access from home, they don't necessarily need wireless but most providers today already provide a router built in to their modem and wireless can be an option but it not really necessary.

    If we reduce our teaching staff by 1/3 than the district will experience a savings of about (and approximate), $7,730,236 a year.  Class sizes would have to increase to 30 students but the addition of technology in each students hands would make it much, much more easier to manage the students.

    With that big of a cost savings,  we could most likely be able to afford internet access to those families that could not provide it for themselves.  Even if we had 1000 students in need, it would only cost us $15,000 a month and a total of $180,000 a year but bear in mind we are saving 7.7 million a year in teaching staff reduction.  I would glady pay the $180,000 a year if I could save 7.5 million a year.  TWC provides a 6MB speed for $15.00 a month.  Yes, I know that is not very good for streaming but I am not so sure that would be a problem.

    Where you got millions to put a device in every students hands is beyond me.  I just can't fathom that one (careful,some one may be putting a mickey in your Kool-Aide).

    It is not because they are frugal with the money, it is that they overtaxed us.  Has nothing to do with them being frugal.

    And if we are already 5 million in the black and you reduce the staff to 1/3 less, adding the 7 million would have given us 12 million in the bank.  The five year forcast is based on retaining the full staff we have now.  I am not enflaming the public, I am enlightening them to alternatives.

    And I don't really need to show you any proof for it is currently all around you if you would just look.  Actually become aware of what is going on all around you.  Have you ever seen kids using technology?  Do you see how involved they get?  Ask a teacher that has technology available versus those teachers that have none.  The experienced teacher that uses technology as a tool would jump at the chance and their awareness of how students dive into technoloy would help explain it for you..  I find it really difficult to believe you have not seen how children use technology.  Even in this article it states how amazed they are with 3 and 4 year olds usings Ipads and tablets.  What you need to do is show proof how small class sizes are an advantage.  They have been doing small class sizes for a while now and the US isn't even ranked in below 20 world wide.  Now does that show you small class sizes are the way to go?  Thing is, every computer in a childs hand is a personal tutor or don't you get that one either?

    And when you talk about school districts jumping on the latest technology, maybe if the teachers were well aware of how to use technology, maybe it would have gone bust.  Fact is, new younger teachers grew up with technology and outperform the older teachers in leaps and bounds.  If we had the teachers we are getting now back then (or teachers who learned computers as well as new teachers today back then), it would have been a phoenominal success.  Unfortunately, teachers back then were dead set on doing it the "Old" way.  Unions protected them and prevented us and the districts from getting them to get on the band wagon.

    So, if you can, can you show me how it would cost millions?

    If they were focused on the complete student, then every one of them would have a computer in their hand.

    I'm am glad you responded though for it confirmed my suspicions that you are far less informed than you thought you were.

    So sad.

    Martin Fleming

  • Great news that the District has added all of these resources for the students to use. I understand that the introduction of these was made possible by the wireless network that was installed last year. Without the wireless the would hardly be useful at all. Also I renember reading the article that the wireless was made possible because a large amount of very expensive network equipment was donated to the District. I find it remarkable that technology has become so much more affordable just a few years ago any type of decent laptop or portable device would have cost over $1,000 each.

    It seems to me that Streetsboro is moving in the right direction, obviously not as quickly as some would like but then there have been lots of schools who jumped right on what ever the latest whiz bang technology is spent lots of money and later regretted it, I am glad that the administrators at Streetsboro are being conscientuous in the adoption of technology. Don't forget the purchase is only part of the cost maintaining it and having the infrastructure in place to make it usable have to be considered.

    Whizzard I will ask you one question, you bring up the subject of students not having exclusive access to computers at home. What solution would you propose? What if the student had the device but no wireless access?

    What I find ludicrous is that you propose spending millions to put a device in the hands of every student without mentioning the associated costs or if the device would even be usable (note everyone has wireless internet) and in the same article suggest that they renewal levies aren't needed.

    Take a look at the Treasurer's five year forecast, the fact that the District has been frugal enough to have a decent cash reserve right now tells me that they have been good stewards of the taxpayers money.

    But then it is much easier to sit back pull a few selected bullet points and try to enflame the publc.

    Show us any data that supports your theory that introducing technology would allow class sizes to be increased and still maintain a high degree of learning.

     

    Finally, from what I have seen Streetsboro is very focused on the students, the complete student.

  • Hmmm, several times I have written in the past about how we need to get a computer into every students hands from 1st grade to 12th. 

    This teacher elaborates on all the benefits I discussed and the advantages.

    It is quite sad how the district is still dragging their feet on computerizing students.

    Now that the students have to rely on computers to complete their assignments, what are we doing about students that don't have exclusive access to computers at home to complete their projects?

    At this point, absolutely nothing and this is creating greater divide between those students that have access versus those that do not.  Is this how we give an equal opportunity for all students to have the same advantage?

    Once again, the computers will virtually eliminate the need for small classes, teachers should be able to control large classes of 30 students quite easily, and we can reduce the size of the teaching staff by one-third at minimum and still maintain a level of efficiency in educating the students.  The savings involved would assure us the ability to increase pay for the remainder of the teachers at the same opening up more funds for more technology. 

    I wonder why all those nay sayers who refutted my concept aren't speaking up against this now?

    It was extemely ludicrous for anyone to assume that the students would spend their whole day staring at a computer and these weren't going to be used as a tool by the educator.

    We still need to kick it up about 30 notches and get computers in the hands of all students.  These labs aren't going to fill the void that is extremely wide right now.

    We have an apportioned levy in place that would provide the need funds for you see, since the last financial statement shows our school since May was 5 million in the black compared to 2010 when we were 2 million in the black.  If the board really wants to do right by the students, they should shift some of the millage from the General Fund portion of the levy over to Permanent Improvement.  There is no reason why the district can't do that now to get computers into the hands of their students. The apportioned levy permits them to move the funds without the publics approval and they are derelict in their duty to provide for the children of this community.  Their arrogance is impeding the education of our children and with our nation not within the top 20 ranking in global education is a concern we should not be taking lightly.

    They need to focus more on our children.

    It can be done and should be done.

    And with 5 million still in the bank, maybe they don't really need to approve these renewals in November. 

    Many business have let employees go because they were able to make more money with less people with computers. 

    Martin Fleming