One-to-One Digital Learning

Edgar Murray Elementary School teacher Melissa Husereau makes a lighthearted comment to fifth-grader Mya McQueen as Husereau’s students get familiar with their new Google Chromebooks on Thursday afternoon. The St. Clair R-XIII School District purchased Chromebooks for all junior and senior high school students last year and handed them out as the second semester began in January, but also later bought the devices for fifth-graders in February as part of the district’s one-to-one digital learning initiative. Pictured sitting next to McQueen is Colton Lucas.

Still in its early implementation stages, the St. Clair R-XIII School District’s Google Chromebook rollout has extended to the elementary school level.

Edgar Murray Principal Larrinda Witt informed board of education members during their February meeting late last month that her fifth-grade classes were receiving 120 additional digital devices to complement the nearly 50 the school already has.

“This will allow every student to have their own device,” Witt said of her fifth-graders in her board report. “This one-to-one initiative will allow for technology-rich instruction and learning to occur.”

Edgar Murray has six fifth-grade classrooms this year.

Teachers of that grade level were working with their students this week by introducing them to the Chromebooks and how they work.

When St. Clair’s junior and senior high school students returned for the second semester in January, they were given a Chromebook to use as the district launched its much-anticipated one-to-one digital initiative.

Students whose parents paid a usage fee get to take their computers home with them at the end of each day and on weekends. If a student does not have the insurance, he or she must leave the devices at school overnight.

The rollout occurred during the first couple of weeks of the current semester. The semester is being used similarly to a trial-and-error period as both the students and teachers get used to having the Chromebooks and all the technology that goes with them.

“There’s been a little snafu here and there, but it’s going very well,” SCHS Principal Mike Hunter said of the digital initiative. “The students are very excited about it.”

Junior high Principal Steve Weinhold agreed.

“It is working out really well,” he said. “There has been a problem or two, but we’re dealing with it.”

Last year, the board of education approved spending nearly $500,000 to purchase the 1,400 Google Chromebooks as part of the one-to-one initiative. The devices have been tailored to fit the district’s needs, including filters that limit accessibility of certain content.

Google Apps for Education is being used. Each device costs $280.

All students had to sign off on a Chromebook policy.

Last semester and early this year, several “Power Up” meetings were conducted to educate parents on the initiative. Students and teachers continue to learn as the semester progresses.

Having the Chromebooks will give R-XIII students Internet access at their fingertips throughout the school day to help with the education process. Blended lessons plans will be developed by teachers that include traditional textbooks.

Murphy has said that this second semester of the 2013-14 academic year is “experimental” as he hopes bugs and problems will be worked out over the course of the coming months.

“The fifth-grade teachers and students are so excited to be a part of the district’s one-to-one initiative,” Witt told The Missourian. “The Chromebooks are one more step in assisting our students in becoming 21st century learners and preparing them for global citizenship.”