More Ohio County Students To Get New Chromebooks

District Taking Bids To Purchase 2,000 Devices

Photo Provided Warwood School sixth grade students Hayley Doyle, from left, William Johnson, Asa Fletcher and Rachel Grall work on the Chromebook computers provided to all sixth grade students in Ohio County Schools this year.

WHEELING — Ohio County Schools will provide all middle school students and those at Wheeling Park High School with a Chromebook beginning next fall.

The school district is presently accepting bids to purchase an additional 2,000 Chromebooks, which will be distributed to students in grades 7-12 and their teachers at the start of the 2018-19 school year. Each comes with an expected price tag of about $300.

The purchase will begin the second phase of a two-phase rollout program of Ohio County Schools “1 to 1 Teaching/Learning Initiative” to place computers in the hands of all students.

Phase I began at the start of the current school year, when about 400 sixth grade students received Chromebooks to take home each night.

Another 400 devices were purchased for use only in language arts classrooms at WPHS, according to JoJo Shay, innovation coordinator for Ohio County Schools.

“The teachers and students have done incredibly well with the Chromebooks,” she said. “That’s why we are moving forward.”

The district will seek to get Chromebooks into the hands of middle school and high school teachers this semester so they can get trained and prepared to use them in the classroom next fall, she said.

Teachers initially were concerned students would forget to bring their Chromebooks to school, forget to charge them or maybe lose or damage them. But teachers now say they are proud of the responsibility being shown by the students, Shay said.

Shay interviewed the sixth grade students about the Chromebooks, and asked them how they are using them and what they most liked about them.

They spoke of how the Chromebooks help them to organize their classwork, she reported. They are able to message their teachers in the evening with any questions they might have about their lessons, and they receive assignments electronically.

They can check dates as to when these assignments are due, and also keep a watchful eye on their grades.

In addition, students and teachers are both benefiting from the value of collaboration and mutual learning on the Chromebooks, according to Shay.

“In the beginning, the students realized the teachers didn’t know all the answers, and they asked another teacher. They learned that that was okay, and that is the part that has made the program flourish,” she said. “When teachers show they are ready to collaborate, they are modeling for the students. This empowers students to be able to that, as well.”

“They naturally get up and help each other. That has been very powerful.”

About 1,500 Chromebooks already have been placed in the school district’s elementary schools, representing one cart for every two classrooms, Shay said. Conversations will take place next year on how best to expand the technology at the elementary school level.

Shay expects Chromebooks will change classroom dynamics in the future.

“There will be a redefinition of teaching,” she said. “Students will take more control over their learning, and be given more open-ended projects based on the real-world. They will work on projects and presentations meeting the standards of today, but in a different way. They will come out with real world skills they can use in everyday life.”

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