HENNEPIN — As technology progresses, it becomes important to teach it in school, so students can keep up with the ever-changing world. At Putnam County Elementary School, that hasn’t been a problem.
The fifth-grade students at PCES have been using Chromebooks in the classroom since the beginning of the school year, and so far, the results have been favorable from the standpoint of students and teachers.
“It’s pretty cool,” McKinley Swickla said. “You get to go online, and it’s like your own computer.”
“My favorite part is using it for homework and studying for a test,” Lucas Carroll said. “You can text each other on it.”
The Google Chromebooks are part of the school district’s 1:1 Initiative program. The goal is to continue to progress with technology in the classroom and eventually have students use Chromebooks one-to-one throughout their curriculum. Such technology would be utilized throughout their entire school career. The fifth-grade class is part of the pilot program to see if the idea really works. So far so good.
“I like it,” teacher Monica Frund said. “I think it engages them.”
“A lot of them are used to computers at home,” teacher Josie Hall said. “I think sometimes they know how to do things I don’t.”
“If there’s a downside, it’s making things work the way you want them to. The other day, we got on the website to practice math games online, and they figured something out that I didn’t know you could do,” teacher Becky Boudreau said. “They were able to create a game room. So they were still practicing, but it turned into ‘Join my room! Join my room!’ They were still working, but they were playing against each other instead of some faceless person. They just turned it into more of a social action than just doing math facts.”
Students in Boudreau’s class are using Chromebooks to blog with each other about stories they read. Students can instantly communicate with each other and their teachers to discuss and share ideas, problems and solutions, as well as dialogue based on books they have read.
A basic Chromebook costs about $200, and each book can be taken home by the student assigned to it. You might think that would raise some worries with the teachers, but that’s not the case.
“We were excited about it,” Hall said. “I’ve been able to do some projects with social studies. They really enjoy it.”
“There’s times that you wanted them to do research, and the tech lab wasn’t available,” Frund said. “Now, you don’t have to plan certain days to do certain projects. You can do it anytime.”
If the pilot program works, the school district will implement the 1:1 Initiative for the other grades.