1:1 Chromebook Program: Parent FAQs
Is participation in the 1:1 program required? If so, why?
The short answer is yes. The reasoning for our decision is a bit longer.
With the help of the Lake Stevens community, in 2013 the district created a long term plan to guide us into the future. Parents and community members were very vocal about the need for increased access to technology and integration of it into student learning. One of the goals of the plan was to create a “technology empowered” district where we developed curriculum and assessment systems to engage students and provide timely data to guide teachers in the classroom.
To accomplish this goal, the district has begun to implement changes in both our assessment systems and our curriculum adoptions. To quickly determine what level students are on in reading and math, secondary students use an online assessment which provides instant feedback to teachers. This allows them to adjust instruction to meet student needs. Last summer the district replaced the math curriculum at the middle and high schools with an online offering with the understanding that all students would soon have a computing device. As we look ahead to more curriculum adoptions in the future our plan to is to move to fully online curricula that can be updated on a continual basis to reflect new discoveries, changes in world politics, and new historical.
Over the course of the past few years we have also found that every student can benefit as they are provided resources online. We provide powerful tools to help all students when they struggle with reading and writing assignments. They can have difficult text read to them as it is highlighted on the screen, text can be quickly simplified to help a struggling reader, fonts that help dyslexic readers can be used, students who struggle with handwriting can use “voice typing” tools to just speak to the computer for writing assignments, and our math curriculum even has a button students can click to get a live person to help them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even in classes that still use textbooks students can take pictures of pages with their phones, upload them to their Google Drive folder and then have the pages read to them with highlighted text. With these tools available, ALL students need to have access at all times, not just a select few. We are committed to providing students will equitable access to technology and equitable opportunities to use them.
If a student already has his own Chromebook is it possible to use it instead of the school issued one?
While all Chromebooks are the same physically, LSSD purchases a management license for all district owned Chromebooks that allows us to ensure that each student has the best learning tool we can provide. This management tool allows us to:
- Get the Chromebook on the WiFi network we have created specifically for Chromebooks. This network gives devices the highest priority on the network, the fastest speeds and great connectivity. We do not give out the passcode for this network to prevent people from connecting phones and other devices to it and slowing this network. The only way to get to this network is to have it pushed to the Chromebook via our management tool.
- We limit logins to LSSD accounts only on school issued Chromebooks. This lessens the time teachers have to spend troubleshooting issues in the classroom and maximizes learning time. It also ensures that students are always being filtered appropriately for their age group.
- The district and/or teachers can push apps and extensions via the management tool resulting in less class time taken for students to have to manually install these.
- Make sure that students are filtered appropriately for their grade level at all times. A student bringing in their own device is filtered at the kindergarten level by default. That might not allow them to use the tools a teacher is expecting in the classroom.
- Students must have a district owned Chromebook for state testing in the spring. We use the management tool to push the secure app needed and ensure compliance with testing regulations.
When using a district issued Chromebook it is exactly the same as every other student’s. We have found that this environment eliminates theft. When everyone already has one and there is no difference, students don’t steal.
When students use their own Chromebook and it breaks, it is quite possible that they might be without one for two to three weeks while it is being sent in for repair. We believe that it will quickly become impossible for a student to be without a Chromebook for two to three hours. When they are using a district issued Chromebook we can replace a broken one in five minutes and get them back into the classroom to continue learning. The LSSD Technology Fee helps to defray the costs associated with repairing student Chromebooks so parents aren't faced with large fines when the unexpected accident occurs.
Parents have told us that their children who already had a Chromebook generally use their district-issued Chromebook for homework and then switch to their personal Chromebook for their own recreation, such as games and social media. What a great way to know what your child is working on without even asking!
Is participation in the 1:1 program required? If so, why?
In the Lake Stevens School District we have built an expectation that technology tools are an essential part of our educational program. As a school switches to a 1:1 environment, teachers will begin to move away from paper and pencil and rely more on technology-based tools for even the most basic tasks as reading, writing and research. With a move to cloud-based tools, many student assignments include collaboration between students. Your child’s team members will expect that everyone is completing their part of a project in a timely manner. Having a Chromebook at home reduces technical glitches and keeps your child focused on the work at hand.
Also, when those Chromebooks are at home, students are expected to have them charged for a full day of use in their classes the next day. Just as students are expected to bring other tools to class (a sharpened pencil, blank paper, books, etc), they’ll be expected to have a fully charged Chromebook at all times as well.
What if we don’t have Internet access at home?
If the cost of having Internet at home is an issue for your family, Comcast offers a special program called Internet Essentials that allows families who qualify to purchase an Internet connection for your home for $10 a month. You can find more information at https://internetessentials.com.
While Chromebooks DO work best when they are connected to the Internet, all Google apps work offline and many Chrome Web apps can work offline as well. It is possible for students to install Chrome extensions that allow them to “save” Web pages for later reading. We will be continually working with teachers and students to help them understand how to work offline.
We are always pleasantly surprised by how creative students are at finding ways to get connected to the Internet. Students tell teacher they go to a nearby friends houses to use WiFi, go to the library or coffee shops (or McDonald's) to use their WiFi or even use phones as a hot spot in a pinch to keep working when they need to. Sometimes it is these creative solutions that work the best!
My student is not interested in getting a Chromebook, do they have to have one?
Once a school goes to a 1:1 technology model, access to technology is no longer optional. The school and the district have been planning for some time to convert to more and more digital curriculum and books in an effort to lighten the load in student backpacks, provide more up-to-date curriculum resources and get rid of paper whenever possible. We can’t accomplish those goals as long as technology is optional to students, so it is imperative that every student have and use a Chromebook.
If your child is enrolled in a Math class in grades 6-12 they have already begun to use the new online math curriculum the district purchased in the summer of 2015. As we adopt new curriculum in the future we will not purchase paper textbooks, but will look for online, interactive curriculum and will supplement it with engaging, data-driven activities that utilize technology to its fullest.
For a list of 10 reasons your child should use technology as part of their classes, take a look at this great article:
What can my child do with technology that they can’t do with traditional paper and pencil?
Technology provides support for student learning that help the student overcome many barriers that exist in a paper and pencil world. We install a tool called Read and Write for Google on every district-owned Chromebook. This provides students with a readily available toolbar that allows them to have any text read to them (even text in a picture!), gives them a traditional dictionary or a picture-based one, translates troublesome words back to their native language, and provides them with tools to efficiently annotate reading material and gather notes for use in their writing. These tools are impossible to provide (without providing a full time tutor) using just traditional books and paper/pencil.
Teachers use Web-based tools to quickly find out how well students understand a new concept. In a 2-3 minute activity students can answer a few questions (or solve a problem or two), submit it to the teacher and the teacher instantly can see areas that need extra help, students that might need reteaching, or if they are clear to go to the next topic. This instant feedback replaces traditional quizzes that were given on paper, graded by the teacher at night, and then brought back a day or two later. With technology teachers can assess students continually and adjust instruction for each student to ensure they are staying up with the expectations of the class.
Students become CREATORS of knowledge content rather than just passive consumers. Students can utilize many different media and methods to complete assignments rather than always just write a paper. A student will now be able to create a video that compares and contrasts two characters in a book or play, stretching them to move beyond just the script writing. Students might write a blog and ask for comments from their classmates or older students might even reach out to experts in the field to help them hone their knowledge. Students who learn best visually might create an eye-catching infographic that summarizes their knowledge of a topic. A history buff could create a Google map that pinpoints geographic locations as they study a topic (i.e., Civil War battle sites with pictures and battle information that pops up in the map, or an interactive map of the Underground Railroad). As we help students make this move from consumers to creators, they become a part of the world, capable of actively participating in communities to solve problems positively.
We live in a connected world. Businesses fully expect that their workers can work well in teams and it is becoming more and more commonplace to see those teams composed of workers from many different locations. Our students will leave school with a deep understanding of using technology to work collaboratively in a team to accomplish a task or complete a project. They’ll be well versed in appropriate communication and productivity tools that amplify the abilities of each team member.
Technology also allows students to travel virtually to places unimaginable before. Students can use Google Streetview to explore foreign cities and walk through the most famous museums in the world, examining art works and historical artifacts with microscopic vision. Teachers have begun hosting Google Hangouts with guest speakers and authors from anywhere in the world, allowing students to interact with them as if they were all in the same room. Students can use Google maps to explore the surface of the moon or Mars, or dive in the Great Barrier Reef any time or any day. Technology offers possibilities that were previously so expensive or dangerous that we would never have considered them. As it becomes commonplace in classrooms, we can only imagine where our students will be virtually traveling!
How does technology help us keep learning relevant and up-to-date?
Scholars generally agree that the “half-life” of knowledge in the world is about 18 months, and sometimes can be measured in weeks in some disciplines. This means that every 18 months approximately half the knowledge in any given discipline is no longer true or relevant. The only way to keep up with this explosion of knowledge is to help our students understand how to:
- Perform great searches on the internet that bring them quickly to their goal
- Dig under the cover of Internet sites and sources to know what is reliable information that stands up to the rigor of scholarly standards
- Ignore information and data that is clearly biased and outside the scope of accepted norms
Some easy examples of this are the flurry of debate raging around Pluto. One day it is a planet, the next a large rock, then suddenly it is a planet again! Four new elements were just added to the Periodic Table of Elements. Countries divide, merge and change names constantly. No textbook or print materials can possibly keep up with these changes, but teachers can utilize technology to keep their curricula current and relevant for students as knowledge grows at a staggering pace.
Does my student really need to sign out a Chromebook? He/she says that his/her teachers are requiring them to check one out. I don’t want to be responsible for the Chromebook.
We are providing a Chromebook to every child to ensure they have the greatest chance of success in school and life as possible. We urge parents to try out the program for awhile and watch how responsible and careful their child can be. In our experience our students value their Chromebooks highly and take very good care of them.
We do realize that occasionally there are extenuating circumstances that do prevent your child from being able to bring a Chromebook home from school. Please talk to the school administration or your child’s counselor to help create a plan if you find yourself in this type of situation.
What about students who take classes off campus (i.e., Running Start, Sno-Isle)?
Any student taking a class on our campus will be issued a Chromebook. Any student who is not taking courses on campus will not be able to have a Chromebook.