In this EdTech interview we profile Dani Kennis, a high school teacher in New Jersey. She shares her experience using Chromebooks in the classroom. As Chromebooks become an increasingly popular choice for for schools across the country, her interview offers insight into best practices for teachers.
I work in a suburban school, Clarkstown High School South, located 45 minutes from New York City. South has a student population of about 1500 students and a staff of 200. I am a Special Education Social Studies teacher as well as a Technology Coach in my school. In my role as a Technology Coach, I often lead professional development in which I work with teachers on an array of tech-related topics, including power of Google Apps and creative uses for edtech tools.
Chromebooks are a cost effective Cloud-based laptop that allow students to collaborate, create, and connect with one another both inside and beyond the four walls of the classroom. Chromebooks run Google’s operating system, Chrome OS, and allow students to use their school account to sign in and utilize Web 2.0 tools. It is important that students have a basic understanding of Google Apps for Education (Drive, Docs, Classroom, etc) in order to most successfully utilize a Chromebook so there is a definite learning curve associated with Chromebook use. Chromebooks can be used to curate information, conduct research, or – my personal favorite – create content!
This year is the very first year that my students and I have used Chromebooks. I had to beg, borrow and (almost) steal in order to get a Chromebook cart in my classroom and I am so glad that I did because having that cart has changed the entire landscape of my classroom. I have seen a tangible and visible increase in student engagement and motivation since using Chromebooks. The culture and climate of my class has shifted from that of me being the ‘sage on the stage’ to students being in the driver’s seat as they complete self-paced tasks that afford them to opportunity to choose how and when they learn, are assessed and display mastery of content and skills. There is a much greater focus on student choice, voice and growth than in the past without the Chromebooks.
First, don’t be afraid to move slowly and teach proper Chromebook etiquette and use when starting out. Taking time at the beginning of the year to establish routines for taking out and putting away Chromebooks will eventually lead to saving valuable class time later in the year. Secondly, start small. Chromebooks don’t have to be used every single day or with every single lesson. They should be used for a specific purpose depending on the targeted desired learning outcome.
I hope for my students to have opportunities to continue developing 21st-century skills in all of their classes. I want to guide them in developing a sense of autonomy, passion and pride in the work that they do and the things that they create. Ultimately, I would love to be able to do Genius Hour with my students!
Follow Dani on Twitter or check out her eBook on Chromebooks to explore this topic further.
Monica Burns is an EdTech & Curriculum Consultant and Apple Distinguished Educator. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.
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