About a year ago, Malden High School was chosen by Sprint to be apart of the 1:1 initiative to help students connect to the internet at a reduced cost by providing them with Chromebooks. Last year, the school carried out a pilot program for the initiative, where every member of the Class of 2018 was given a Chromebook. English Teachers Sean Walsh and Natalia Brennan pitched the idea to Softbank and Sprint in June 2014 that Malden High should be one of the schools that are a part of this program. After four months of anticipation and a bit of silence on the subject, it was confirmed later that year that MHS was officially going Google.
Walsh explained that the Chromebooks “give [students] access to resources, allows [them] to communicate with one another and with teachers, no longer is access to technology an issue because every [student and teacher] has access to a device.” Brennan added, “We can all collaborate and work towards extending technology beyond the school, giving a more consistent experience for students in their classes.”
As soon as the program was confirmed, Walsh and Brennan created an Acceptable Use Policy to ensure that students and parents understood why and how the Chromebooks will be used throughout the school year. Once the AUP’s were signed and money was paid to cover insurance, 2,200 Chromebooks were delivered, unpacked and updated. Brennan notes that “every Chromebook that every [student] has in possession has been touched by a [teacher] to ensure that it works”.
One new tool provided by Chromebooks that will significantly change the learning environment of MHS is Google Classroom. This makes submitting online assignments to teachers much more easier and organized. Before Google Classroom, submitting an online assignment through Google Docs required a teacher to know all his students' email addresses and have to go back into Google Drive, cluttering all of the essays and having to identify them by their label.
Brennan explained that “Google Classroom has cleaned this up and is a place where [teachers] can assign things to [students] very easily as it get delivered straight to [students], and [students ]can turn documents, videos, presentations, discussions very easily.” Walsh also added that “having one account that is linked with your google account is a more consistent experience from class to class as all classes are in the same place, keeping students more organized.”
The Chromebooks benefit all sorts of classes around Malden High School. For english classes in particular by providing an easily accessible resource for research papers and projects. It allows them to push into creative assessments, as there will no longer be 9-12 grade written final exams. Every student will be doing a portfolio by creating a site, creating a portfolio, building on it for all four years and keeping it all in one place.
For math classes, students will now have access to graphing tools and this enables students to connect graphs, equations and their real life applications. In science classes, students can now submit graphs and tables for laboratory experiments online as well as viewing helpful online videos for step-by-step explanations on how to go about these experiments. For history classes, students can now take notes, complete worksheets and mark up the text online while using an online textbook, taking the weight off of students shoulders.
Brennan adds that “watching students progress throughout their academic careers was previously done by keeping folders, which was not super successful in tracking student work, now this is a super easy way to watch your progress through all four years. Teachers no longer have to compete for access to technology for their classes, and it makes research projects much quicker to complete. One thing is for sure: it is going to take some time to adjust to the new technology-dominated environment of MHS.