Please find the technology presentation from 1/9/20 here:
Since starting the 1:1 project during the 2014-2015 school year, there have been a variety of questions asked about the goals and methods of the project. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions.
What are the benefits to having Chromebooks for learning?
Since first sending devices home with students during the 2015-2016 school year, we have seen a number of benefits. The first, and perhaps most important benefit is in access and equity in regards to materials. By providing the same device to all students, students are able to uniformly access class materials and teachers can be assured that all students can participate equally.
Allowing students to take the devices home provides additional benefits over leaving them in school. When a student is able to take the device home, they become more comfortable in using the tools that we have provided and therefore they are more willing to try new things and expand what they are doing. It is not uncommon for students to come to us and show a new skill or strategy they have developed because they had access to the device at all times.
In terms of actual learning and curricular benefits, technology-enhanced learning allows students to use materials that they otherwise would not have used and communicate and collaborate in real-time with peers and experts locally and around the world. Technology-enhanced learning also lets students have more authentic experiences in their learning. Rather than filling out a worksheet about the mood or tone of a book, a student can use the technology to create a book trailer, a skill that has real-world applications, and demonstrate their understanding of those terms in a new format.
Technology-enhanced learning also allows students who learn in different ways have an equitable learning experience. Accessibility tools allow a student to adjust the Chromebook to meet their needs. Students who have poor motor skills often find typing to be easier than writing by hand. Students can use the Google Suite of applications to help with organizational issues and they can use features such as Speech-to-Text and Text-to-Speech to help with various executive functioning concerns.
What challenges has Lexington Public Schools found and how does the school address those challenges?
The general challenges that are faced in the outside world are the same challenges that we face here at Lexington Public Schools. Student distractibility is enhanced by access to so much more information. Online anonymity almost encourages petty pranks and nastiness. And over-reliance on technology can cause some students to lose offline skills that they had come close to perfecting.
As a school system, we are constantly working with teachers and students to address these problems and more. Generally speaking, middle school is a safe time for students to make mistakes because the stakes are still low. Our staff is aware of what students are doing in regards to technology and other age appropriate academic and behavioral skills, and they appropriately redirecting mistakes of all sorts. Students receive presentations from Digital Learning Coaches, Health teachers, administrators and more to help them understand what it means to be a positive, digital citizen in the 21st century, and technology is balanced with off-line work during the school day in order to help students become well-rounded individuals.
Is Lexington Public Schools concerned about rising screen time among kids these days?
The devices that students have in school are, of course, just one of many screens that they are using throughout the day. Cell phones, televisions, desktop computers, and devices at school, at home, and elsewhere are omnipresent, and all of this screen time adds up. However, our belief, which mirrors the most recent statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics, is that not all screen time is equal. There is a difference between sitting and watching Netflix and creating a slide presentation in Google Slides. Lexington Public Schools has always encouraged active use of technology over passive usage, and we have never promoted a mindset of technology for technology’s sake. We are committed to a healthy balance of devices used for learning and screen time and are interested in partnering with parents and families to ensure that students have the tools they need for learning and that they get the appropriate amounts of screen time and non screen time.
How does Lexington Public Schools set up filters on what students can see and access on their devices?
Lexington Public Schools has installed filters on our network that comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requirements. In addition, we are constantly working to refine and enhance these filters to block sites and internet tools that are inappropriate for an educational environment while still working to allow students as much latitude as possible in their research and exploration. Filters, however, are network not device specific. When students leave the school, they can access other networks and those will have their own filters. This is why we also encourage parents to set up filters on their home networks as well.
What tools and online resources are students using on their devices?
With more than 200 teachers between the two middle schools, there are an enormous number of online tools and resources that are used on any given day in Lexington Public Schools. However, there are a number that are used in many different classes:
- Google Classroom — A tool that allows teachers to post assignments, materials, and questions for students and also collect, grade, and return assignments
- NoodleTools — A bibliography creation tool that also has the ability to help students create outlines and virtual notecards to help complete research assignments
- Adobe Spark — An online program that allows students to create videos, flyers, logos, and infinitely scrolling websites.
- Padlet — A virtual discussion board/corkboard software that allows teachers and students to post ideas and respond to each other
- Flipgrid — A tool that allows students and teachers to post video responses to questions and to respond to those videos with more video responses
- Screencastify — A screencasting tool and video editor for the Chromebooks
- Desmos — An online graphing calculator
- Google Translate — A translation tool that works in multiple languages
- Xodo & DocHub — PDF Annotation tools
- Read & Write for Google — A tool that allows students to highlight and annotate work online, convert text to speech, and much more.
As this is by no means a comprehensive list, please don’t hesitate to ask your student’s teachers for more information about any tools that students are using at home.
How can I control my child’s device usage at home?
At the end of the day, you are still the parent and we rely on our partnership with you to best education our students. These devices are being provided to students as a way to access the curriculum and as a way to equitably further students’ education. If you have other resources at home that you would rather your child use, you are welcome to have your child put their device away in a safe and secure spot in your house and only use it for school. If students are spending too much time on non-academic websites on their school-owned device, you are welcome to restrict their time on the device. If this happens, please email your child’s teacher(s) to explain the restrictions. We are committed to partnering with you so that this tool is used appropriately.
On a more specific level, we have several recommendations for you to control the device usage in your home:
- Have an open conversation with your child(ren) about their device usage
- Have child(ren) charge their device in a public space or parents’ bedroom to prevent late-night video watching
- Check your router and home filter settings to make sure you are blocking and regulating appropriately (Check out this article for more information: https://cnet.co/2NnYd7Q)
- Institute device-free times in your home (e.g. dinner-time) where everyone (parents included!) has devices away
- Encourage positive device usage by asking child(ren) to create family videos or artwork with their devices
Why did Lexington Public Schools switch from iPads to Chromebooks? Are you saying that Chromebooks are better than iPads?
There was a lot of discussion within LPS about making the switch from iPads to Chromebooks. Several factors were involved:
- Price: Chromebooks have a lower overall cost (factoring in cases, setup, etc.) than iPads do
- Maintenance: The primary breakage of iPads was screen damage which needed to be sent out for repair every time. When Chromebooks break, a large amount of the repairs can be done on site.
- Usage: Most importantly, the vast majority of the work that students do online is either using the Google Suite of Applications and/or general web-based tools. These work much better on Chromebooks than on iPads.
We do, however, recognize the power of iPads in terms of creative applications in the classroom. This is why we still have iPad and Macbook carts in both middle schools for these types of uses.
What is Lexington Public Schools doing to teach my child the right way to behave online?
Digital Citizenship is an important topic that is talked about at many different times during a student’s time at Lexington Public Schools. We discuss important issues such as cyber-bullying, online identity protection, proper computer care, and more. In the middle school, we also get into more nuanced discussions about how to deal with ever-expanding technology and how to live and function in a digital world without getting into too much trouble.
Lexington Public Schools has also created a set of Responsible Use Guidelines that we go over with all students. It provides good context for discussing both proper online behavior and how students can put forward the best representations of themselves both online and offline.
What is the policy for lost and broken devices?
When devices are lost, parents will be notified and have two weeks in which to find the device. If the device is not found, parents will be charged the value of the device minus depreciation. For every year a middle school student has the device, it depreciates in value by one-third. If a device is intentionally or willfully broken, parents will also be charged the value of the device minus depreciation.
We fully understand that accidents and mistakes happen and therefore families will not be charged for the first two instances of accidental breakage. After those two instances, school administrators will determine if the accidental breakage is preventable or not and families might be charged the value of the device minus depreciation from that point onward.
Can my child leave their device at school?
Since we have decided to allow 6th graders to take their devices home, we will be dismantling the existing carts and distributing those chargers to students. We will maintain a small number of charging stations, but the carts will be redistributed where needed throughout the district. So we will not have storage for students to leave their Chromebooks at school.