HORNELL — Students at Hornell High School will have new tools in hand as they start the 2018-19 school year. Beginning this year, the district will issue a Chromebook to each student in grades 7-12 for his or her use during the school year.
Students in grades K-6 also will have access to Chromebooks during the school day, but at this time will not have one assigned to them and will not be able to take them home.
The move follows a successful pilot program last year, when Chromebooks were provided to all students in grades 7 and 8 for academic use during the school year and in most classes K-6.
According to Ted Illi, director of secondary education, the 1:1 technology initiative also includes professional development for teachers in the use of Google Classroom. Teachers are encouraged to provide assignments and resources to students using that platform. The district hasn’t made the move to digital textbooks and will allow teachers to make the move to the new platform at their own pace and as appropriate.
“The move to a 1:1 environment will obviously reduce the amount of paperwork that is completed, but is not intended to replace paper, books or textbooks altogether,” Illi said. “The district believes there is a place for both and will evolve in use of electronic resources when and where appropriate. “
Students can use Google Classroom to keep track of their schedule and assignments, collaborate with each other on projects and communicate with teachers and other students outside of the school day.
“Our students are well-versed in technology, but it’s specific to smart phone use and social media,” said Rich Everly, technology director. “We’re hoping to teach them how to interact in a more professional manner, such as scheduling calendar events, sharing documents and providing feedback – skills that are necessary in a professional working environment.”
Everly added that providing a laptop to each student promotes equity. “There are students who don’t have access to technology otherwise,” he said. He added that families are encouraged to provide internet access for their students at home, but understands that won’t always be possible.
“We’ll offer extended library hours at the High School so students can complete assignments using the school Wi-Fi,” he said. There are locations throughout the community that provide free internet access as well and we encourage students to take advantage of those.”
He also added that on some assignments, students would be able to work offline.
Another important aspect of the initiative is the emphasis on digital citizenship, Illi said. Before receiving a Chromebook, students and parents must read and sign an Acceptable Use Policy that includes expectations for use and care of the laptop, as well as for behavior online.
Chromebooks will be distributed prior to the beginning of the school year. To pick up a laptop, parents should bring a completed Acceptable Use Policy form to the school at one of these times:
August 27, 5 p.m. (target audience – grades 9-10) August 29, 5 p.m. (target audience – grades 11-12) Sept. 4, 4 p.m. (target audience – grades 7-8)
Parents who have questions about the program are encouraged to contact Illi at 324-1303, ext. 1523.