Polk Schools eyes Chromebooks

Published 5:30 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Superintendent Miller, however, said he wants to see teachers moving their instruction more toward the digital age to help prepare students for college and the working world.

“A big piece of this is not the technology,” Miller said. “It’s the way in which it could change the classroom.”

High school teacher Tawana Weicker said she sees the importance of the devices in her classroom.

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Weicker currently has a set of 10 Chromebooks on hand. She said she sees the biggest advantage in preparing students for research work and software competency at the college and workforce levels.

“It’s preparing them for the 21st-century world,” Weicker said. “Our students are now using Google docs, which professors use all of the time, and it mimics what’s already going on in the business world.”

Weicker said she has even been able to use a system known as Moodle that professors also use to provide students with access to course materials outside their textbooks. She said she knows of many students who have come back to her after their first semester in college and talked about the struggles they faced simply learning their way around such programs.

“There’s a learning curve we can take care of on the high school level,” Weicker said.

Weicker also uses these content management tools to provide her students with links to videos, lectures, literary analyses and more that she said enriches their learning of the content she teaches in the classroom.

As she and students work on a unit related to the Vietnam War, Weicker said she has supplemented her lessons by connecting students with sources, such as a lecture given by Tim O’Brien, author of “The Things They Carry,” a book related to Vietnam War soldiers.

“It brings the world to the classroom,” Weicker said.

Weicker said it also prevents a student who gets sick with mono, for example, from completely missing lectures or assignments.

“Pretty much everything I teach I find a way to get online. That way a student who is missing a week of class still has access to some pretty powerful material,” Weicker said.