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Published: Tuesday, 8/13/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Perrysburg School District to issue laptops to students

BY MATT THOMPSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

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Chalkboards changed to whiteboards, and now pencils are being left behind for keyboards in Perrysburg School District's classrooms.

"There are a lot of important changes," said Joe Sarnes, Perrysburg school's technology integration specialist. "When you walk into a classroom you won't see a wall map. Instead you will be able to see a Google map that is up to date, cool to look at, with a lot of resources."

This school year fifth, eighth, and ninth graders will be issued laptops to take home and work on in class. The ninth graders will receive MacBook Air laptops, while the fifth and eighth graders have Samsung Chromebooks.

In four years, Mr. Sarnes said the district expects every student from grades 5-12 to have a device for taking their work home.

"In 2011, the U.S. Department of Commerce had a statistic that 95 percent of jobs used new electronic communication, that includes phones, laptops, email," said Tom Hosler, Perrysburg superintendent. "If we're serious about telling people we're preparing them to work in the 21st century, it needs to be a part of daily learning."

For the fifth-grader who has a knack for losing his lunch, or dog-eating his homework, Mr. Sarnes is expecting a homeowner's insurance to cover those issues.

"You can add that to homeowners insurance for $25 to $40 and it would replace it, even it was run over by a car," Mr. Sarnes said. "The school will also offer coverage, but it will be much more limited. Or parents can risk it and not pay anything, but I think most will get it on their homeowners insurance."

Mr. Hosler added that while there will be some problems, children are more careful with electronics than other generations were with textbooks because they've grown up with them and respect them. 

These changes are to help prepare students for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. That will call for computer-based assessments starting the 2014-15 school year.

"The test is not about remembering facts and dates, but how you use them," Mr. Sarnes said. "The test gives students a scenario and they have to figure out how it happened."

One example is the test gives reasons for World War II, and then ask students what could have avoided it.

Mr. Hosler said the PARCC testing is a "game-changer" and he wants to make sure students know how to use the devices.

Mr. Sarnes said Ipads were also approved, but with the additional keyboard and mouse needed for the test, it made the cost too high for Ipads. It cost $563,600 for the three grades to receive these new devices. The funds were designated for the project with money from the levy approved in November.

All devices have a filter from the district to protect or prevent students from visiting certain Web sites. Also during school hours, live streaming on the laptops won't be allowed, so students can't use YouTube during class. This is also to prevent the system from crashing, officials said.

The district is currently training teachers on how to teach with the laptops, including in relation to social media.

"Kids, are kids, are kids, and they want to socialize with their peers. There is just a difference, where it used to be going to the mall, or a football game [for an older generation]," Mr. Sarnes said. "They hang out on Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram. Whether it is right or wrong, that is where the next generation is."

Mr. Sarnes said it will be easier for the students to keep learning after school hours by taking the laptops home and staying engaged with peers and teachers through this medium.

Defiance, Hicksville, Perkins, Central Catholic, St. John’s Jesuit, and Eastwood Local are among other school districts that have issued out different electronic devices to students.

Contact Matt Thompson at: mthompson@theblade.com, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.



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