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February 2016

Plymouth Schools One-to-One Mobile Device Program

Over the past several years, the Plymouth Public School District has increased its technology infrastructure and tools in all four schools so that students are prepared for the digital age in which we live. I thought it would be appropriate to provide the community some information about these efforts. As part of our technology plan, our district is in the second year of its one-to-one mobile device program for grades 6-12. Well over 1200 Chromebooks have been provided to students and teachers through this initiative. The initiative puts the necessary tools in the hands of our students and their instructors so they may engage in meaningful work in a collaborative manner.

The impacts on student learning were recently noted by Mike Hults, Principal of Terryville High School. Mr. Hults indicated that, “...having the 1:1 Chromebook program has helped teachers provide more individual instruction and feedback as well as provide a more collaborative environment amongst the students. Having the technology at students’ fingertips also helps with the efficiency of lessons, the timeliness of “finding answers”, speedier assessment (especially informal assessments like kahoots), and the lack of transitioning to and from a computer lab. The Chromebooks have also helped teachers better differentiate activities and interventions with their students.”

Students in the middle school have had the same opportunities as our high school students. Chromebooks are used to increase student collaboration, research, independence, and communication skills. ETMS 8th grader, Taylor Greenwood states, “We use the Chromebooks to write essays, which makes editing and revising easier. We do some peer editing and many times I’ll text a friend, share my essay with her, and ask her to proofread it.” If you walk into any given classroom, you will find students working collaboratively on projects, researching various topics, revising work, or creating presentations to show their learning. The teacher utilizes the Chromebooks as a tool to assist with instruction and students are able to show their learning in various ways. Another middle school student added, “We work on Google Slides in Civics. We write weekly essays, we present and do research on the Chromebooks. Teachers will provide us with feedback and we are able to make the changes.”

At this time Chromebooks are not individually provided to students in our elementary schools. However, teachers have access to Chromebook carts that may be wheeled into a classroom and used for specific lessons or units. While the Chromebooks are an important instructional tool that prepares students for the digital age, they also are used to help our teachers gather real-time data on student achievement and progress. Teachers use STAR (grades K-5) and NWEA MAP (grades 6-8) assessments three times per year; these are computer-adaptive assessments that help teachers determine specific areas of strengths and needs of students. Teachers use these assessments, along with other assessments to guide instruction and examine student growth in multiple areas over time.

The task of supporting and maintaining the Chromebooks is the responsibility of the District Technology Department. Director of Technology, Rich Trudeau, stated that, “We keep student safety at the heart of our mission in supporting our Chromebook initiative. All Chromebooks have filtered web access both within school and while at home. In addition, students have Google accounts for logging into the Chromebooks, which gives them access to filtered e-mail accounts and online document creation as well as online learning platforms such as Google Classroom.”

We are very proud of the work that has been accomplished through the 1:1 program. Our teachers will continue to use this tool in ever-creative ways with our students and our students will continue to benefit in many ways from this initiative.

By Dr. Martin Semmel,

Superintendent of Schools

Plymouth, CT

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