For the first time Riverbank High School students have all been issued Chrome Books that they were assigned for the 2016-17 school year. Approximately 400 students received their computers during the summer and the rest were distributed during the first week of classes. Some students use their Chrome Books in several classes while other upperclassmen use theirs in only a couple classes. Since the rollout, the teachers and the students have had to go through a few learning curves where everyone has moved along at their own pace, with some sprinting and some doing baby steps. Riverbank High School Principal Sean Richey could not be happier that all students have received the Chrome Book, which is an essential tool in the world that we live in today.
“It (distribution of the Chrome Books) has exceeded my wildest expectations,” said Richey. “The staff has taken it to heart and they are running with it. I think in three years you won’t even recognize the things that are happening in the classroom compared to ten years ago.
“It will be a wildly different experience for students.”
Greg Diaz is the new Riverbank Unified School District Instructional Technology Coach, a former English teacher and writing instructor. He has been brought on board to train the teachers and help them adapt to the new technology and applications.
“The teachers are starting to come along but it is a slower process than a lot of people including myself were ready for, I think,” admitted Diaz. “They need to get used to the platform and how to work the computers and once they get that down, then they can start making a connection on how they will use this tool.”
The chrome books are a tool for students and teachers to use technology to help create, problem solve, and use creative thinking.
English Teacher Adam Erro expressed that with students typing the assignments out on the chrome books, now the struggle to read some students’ handwriting has been eliminated.
On a recent tour of a few classes showing the students in action with their chrome books English IV teacher Nancy Garcia was using the new English curriculum, Study Sync using the annotation tool. The students used the Chrome Books to access their reading assignment which they can highlight and make notes right on the text that Garcia can view and comment on as well.
“What’s nice about the chrome book is that the students are learning how to digitally take notes and they have access to resources that they never had before,” stated Garcia. “Some teachers report an increase in student engagement and self-motivation while others are struggling with switching from text to tech. Overall, we all like how this is preparing students for the reality of the workplace and college.”
The students in the AP English Language and Composition class taught by Roz Taulbee were using google documents as a graphic organizer to share thoughts regarding a writing assignment.
During Biology class with Ms. Alice Poulson students were using an online program called Peardeck which allows you to make a slide presentation interactive. Students were able to drag objects around on their Chrome Books in response to questions. Poulson could see the student’s responses immediately and was able to see if the students understood the material.
For most students the use of the Chrome Books has been a really good thing for research and accessing documents and assignments.
“Taking it back and forth to school I am able to work on A Push (Advanced Placement class application) work that maybe I was unable to get to at home,” said junior Ryan Choeb. “I am able to reapply the concepts I learned in school and just use them whenever I wanted to. I didn’t have to go to the library or go to a friend’s house to use the internet.”
“I think it is good for us because we can use it for all our modules and stuff like math and English,” said freshman Leslie Cisneros.
“I think it is a great tool for school because you can access more stuff online and it is better for research and it is like a calculator and a dictionary all in one,” said freshman Osvaldo Garnica.
“At first I honestly didn’t really like it but as I picked it up from the school I enjoyed it a lot,” said junior Kayla Savory.
“Providing them with technology from the beginning from freshman year on we think that we are going to provide students with way more skills with way more knowledge and understanding than they would otherwise have and be ready for what they are going to face in college and when they go into the work force,” expressed Richey.
Assistant Superintendent Christine Facella is also excited to have these computers for the students this school year.
“Even if you are going right from high school to a job you are going to need technological skills, there is no question about it,” Facella noted. “Twenty-first century learning skills, critical thinking, being creative, being able to communicate and collaborate are much more important than being able to regurgitate facts.”
The students were offered insurance on the devices for $15 per student or $45 for three or more students. Most families opted in and the others will have to pay the replacement cost if something happens.
This is the wave of the future and with the plans to expand the bandwidth for Riverbank Unified School District there is more advancement in technology on the horizon as well.
“Our teachers are doing a phenomenal job with this,” stated Richey. “It has been really encouraging the way the teachers have embraced it. In three years you will see this campus be fully digital and the stuff that I think our students are going to be exposed to and asked to do is going to be impressive.”