Blended Learning Through the Use of Chromebooks

7 Ways the Best Private Schools Use Chromebooks to Prepare Students For the Future

During the past 5 years, education has seen an increase in personal electronic computing devices. As a cost-saving alternative to Windows laptops, MacBooks, and iPads, Chromebooks were introduced in 2011 (MAXCases, 2019). In 2012, Google accounted for only 5.2% of all mobile device shipments to U.S. K-12 schools. Fast forward 6 years, now Google accounts for over 50% of these shipments (Sun, 2018).

Christian Life School started using Chromebooks in 2016. We currently have over 540 Chromebooks which are spread throughout the school in 13 shared mobile carts, as well as 25 in the Elementary Computer Lab.

Chromebooks empower young people to take control of their education and teachers are positioned to implement a blended learning methodology in the classroom offering customized instruction to each student. Classrooms are composed of students with a wide range of learning preferences or needs, such as ESL students, those needing an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), or gifted students, among others. Blended learning combines in-person instruction with technology, providing real-time data, timely feedback, and personalized instruction. Formative assessments are done to gauge how well the students are understanding the material. Each of these assessments strives to uncover the individual strengths, weaknesses, and needs of the student. By adjusting activities and assignments, every child receives a perfect-fit education

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Here are 7 Ways Christian Life School is using Chromebooks to Prepare Students for the Future.

1. Develop computer literacy

“Our students engage in a variety of different areas to promote computer literacy,” explains Mrs. Grubb Elementary Computer teacher at Christian Life School. “Beginning in kindergarten they learn the aspects of mouse manipulation, location of keys on the keyboard and basic concepts of coding (Bee-Bot). As they advance, typing is introduced and the students learn the ins and outs of Google Apps for Education, advanced coding (Code), and often create their own projects using the tools they have been taught.”

2. Develop self-engagement

Integrating technology in education helps students stay engaged. Most students today have been using mobile devices like tablets and smartphones to play and learn since they could crawl. So it only seems logical to align today’s classrooms with the way that your students want and are used to learning (Mareco, 2017).

4th grade teacher, Mrs. Pippin explains, “Chromebooks in the classroom allow each student to continually push themselves academically. They use websites on the Chromebooks (such as IXL, Spelling City, and Quizlet) that allow the curriculum to adapt to their talents and abilities. Without access to this technology, I would struggle to challenge each student accordingly.” They feel like they’re playing while they learn so they can keep up, catch up, or stay ahead (Spelling City)!  

3. Promote self-learning

Students who can size up their work, figure out how close they are to their goal, and plan what they need to do to improve are, in fact, learning as they do that. Carrying out their plans for improvement not only makes their work better but helps them feel in control, and that is motivating (Brookhart, 2017).

In 5th grade at Christian Life School, Mrs. Saffell uses Chromebooks during the first 30 minutes of each day. The students have a specific set of 4 learning and quiz websites; IXL, Quizlet, Accelerated Reader and Spelling City. They access each site in order but are free to work at their own pace during the half-hour session. This enables them to choose the area where they feel they need the most work. For example, a good reader, but a struggling speller can choose to spend more time on Spelling City.

4. Strengthen research skills

Cloud storage has made research a lot easier for the students these days. Gone are the days when they had to go through piles of books to find a specific reference to improve their assignments and projects. With technology, research has been quite an effective tool (Stearns).

Using a Chromebook to do in-class research is highly effective as the teacher can give in-the-moment guidance, re-direction, and/or praise to the student. Mrs. Feest, History and English teacher at Christian Life School, loves using blended learning in the classroom with the Chromebooks because it makes resources more accessible in a controlled environment. She also likes the freedom to see the processes that students use to do their online research while they are in her classroom and it allows her to redirect them if necessary.

5. Aid in collaboration

Overall, researchers found, students working in computer-supported collaborative-learning environments had “significantly better knowledge achievement than those who used computer-based individual learning.” They also better developed skills such as argumentation, critical thinking, reasoning, and elaboration. Collaborating with technology, rather than without, likewise had statistically significant positive effects on everything from learners’ skill acquisition, to the quality of group performance on learning tasks, to the quality of social interactions within groups (Herold, 2018).  

Padlet is utilized in Christian Life School’s Elementary computer class. Mrs. Grubb’s 5th and 6th grade classes are brainstorming different ways to be kind to others. Working together in teams they can include pictures, audio or video links, and other information to develop a team-based presentation.  

6. Increase decision-making skills

“Chromebooks can be a tremendous tool. We want to go beyond the technology to the information that helps us make better decisions,” states Mr. Moffett, teacher of Principles of Engineering I & II at Christian Life School. “Engineers need proper preparation for their future starting in high school. We have been using Chromebooks to gather the insight and information needed to help students plan early. We started by having students do several online assessments showing their strengths and weaknesses and possible career choices matching ‘who they are’.”

“Next we used the online Occupational Outlook Handbook to explore certain careers of interest, most notably looking at both future trending as well as educational requirements to find out ‘what they want to be’. “Once we knew educational needs we looked at colleges online utilizing Naviance.”

Christian Life Guidance Counselor, Mr. Jedrzejczyk explains, “Naviance puts the power to find the perfect college or career in the hands of the students by giving them access to data about thousands of colleges and careers. We’ve been told that knowledge is power, but knowledge is only good if it can be accessed.”

7. Create a larger sense of responsibility

“My students often use Chromebooks for research and to develop presentations, individually and in groups”, states Mr. Langley, Theatre Arts Director, at Christian Life School. “Once I’ve clearly outlined expectations for the final product, I tend to be pretty hands off. Certainly, students could misuse their time with the technology, but by and large, they rise to the occasion, understanding that the onus is on them to utilize the tools responsibly and efficiently to craft an excellent product by a deadline. I believe this primes them for work in college and beyond, where initiative is key, and where they will be responsible to find creative means for implementing the tools at their disposal –without someone watching over their shoulders or doing the work for them.”

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Challenges

Staying focused while on a Chromebook can be a challenging task for some young learners. At Christian Life School we are piloting an online tool called Hapara. This is a tool that teachers use to guide students if they are off task, help students with their assignments, focus their browsing to only certain sites, among other things.

Summary

Chromebooks and a blended learning environment can have its challenges, but as long as those are addressed, the benefits can be very positive for students, educators, and parents alike. Increased student engagement and motivation is key to academic and behavioral success.

For more information on the essential characteristics of the best schools, download our free eBook to help you make well-informed decisions for your student.

References

  • Brookhart, Susan M. (Jul 2010). Formative Assessment Strategies for Every Classroom. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.
  • Herold, Benjamin. “Computers + Collaboration = Student Learning, According to New Meta-Analysis.” Web blog post. Digital Education. Education Week, 7, Nov. 2018,  https://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2018/11/computers_collaboration_learning_metaanalysis.html.
  • Mareco, Danny. “10 Reasons Today’s Students NEED Technology in the Classroom.” WiFi as a Service – Secure WiFi Subscriptions – SecurEdge Networks, SecurEdge Blog, 28 July 2017, www.securedgenetworks.com/blog/10-reasons-today-s-students-need-technology-in-the-classroom.
  • MAXCases. “Device Matchup: Chromebook vs. iPad in the Classroom.” Web blog post. Blog. 10, Jan. 2019. https://maxcases.com/posts/Device-Matchup-Chromebook-vs-iPad-in-the-Classroom/
  • Spelling City. “Improve Your Kids’ Spelling & Vocabulary With Games!” Web site. Vocabulary Spelling City. https://www.spellingcity.com/parent-spelling-resources.html
  • Stearns, Clio. “Promoting Decision-Making Skills in the Classroom.” Study.com, Study.com, study.com/academy/lesson/promoting-decision-making-skills-in-the-classroom.html. Web. 16 Jan. 2019.  
  • Sun, Leo. “A Foolish Take: U.S. Schools Love Chromebooks.” Web blog post. The Motley Fool. 2, Apr. 2018. https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/04/02/a-foolish-take-us-schools-love-chromebooks.aspx