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Posts Tagged ‘Budget’

With and Without

This year we piloted our first ever 1:1 program with Chromebooks. We have two teams of four teachers who have enough Chromebooks for each student to use during the day, when needed. We are not using the term 1:1, as that often gets misconstrued. Our students do not take the Chromebooks home. When they move on to another team or class next year, they won’t take their Chromebook with them, but they will get one to use for that year in the new class.

learningWe have six more teams of teachers waiting in the wings for next year to see how this turns out. Having had great success on many levels, we are planning on moving forward and purchasing Chromebooks for 4 more teams for next year. Sadly, our budget doesn’t have room for all six of the remaining teams in this building. We are developing a whole new replacement cycle with these devices and the remaining two teams will use the existing laptops to serve the same purpose; they’ll have enough devices for each student to use, when needed. The plan is that they’ll get Chromebooks the following year. Hopefully.

Interestingly, at last week’s School Board meeting, when the Board heard about with our hopes and dreams for next year, they balked. Were they worried about budgets overall? We’re not asking for additional funding and intend to work within our budget. They want to know how having more access and more devices transforms teaching and learning. They think we’re doing great things with our current set-up. We are. Thanks to amazing teachers who are flexible and patient.

contractorsThere comes a time when our old structure, having a shared cart of 24 laptops for each team of 80-100 students sufficed. That’s no longer the case. School needs to mirror the real world. Would you ask an employee in a place of business to do their work, but they only have access to a computer for an hour a day? The cost of Chromebooks allows us to move forward in providing more access to learning and the world to our students. We’ve seen the change in students having access to devices when they needed them on these two initial teams. Students are so much more comfortable, fluent, and confident. The device fades into the background as they focus on ways to demonstrate their learning, participate in class, reflect, and grow.

The bottom line is this: it still all comes down to good teachers and great teaching. Teachers are the ones who create the experiences and the culture for success.

We are preparing an updated report for the School Board and for parents, with clear examples of the difference for those in our building with ample devices and without. I’ll share that soon, but would appreciate your thoughts. What can you and your students do if you have ample devices that you can’t do otherwise or if you have to share devices with a number of other classes? This is about the learning, but having the access is a part of it.

Feedback and insight are always welcome!

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What’s Not to Like?

It’s been a very interesting few weeks. In an effort to educate and inform the community in which I work, we offered a many question/answer sessions and presentations about our proposed 1:1 initiative for iPads for our 5th/6th graders. We didn’t have a huge turnout, but there were great conversations. We also added a new section to the district’s website with information about everything related to the proposal, including a frequently asked questions page and a form to submit more questions.

Last Tuesday was Town Meeting Day in Vermont. The residents of the towns vote on town budgets as well as school budgets. Our school budget, like most in Vermont, was going up. The majority of the increase is due to things for which there is little control like salaries, health benefits, and costs to operate our school buildings. In the whole budget, the cost for the 1:1 was about half of a percent.

For some reason, the idea of providing an iPad for each 5th and 6th grader didn’t sit well in this town. The whole budget got voted down, by 27 votes. When exploring things further, we saw that only 15% of registered voters turned out that day.

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Image originally from Creative Commons/flickr by Sean MacEntee http://flic.kr/p/9EhzwC

 

We don’t know the next steps yet. The School Board and administration are faced with that task. The budget will likely be adjusted to better suit the voters. Will the iPad initiative be gone entirely? We don’t know yet.

One community member was heard to say, “Our town is not ready for this.” Why not this town, when others are fully in support? What are people frightened of? Loss of control of the digital culture in their homes? Fear that their children will know more than them? Obviously there’s not a clear understanding of how this tool can support, enhance, and transform learning for the better. How do we better educate and inform the adults in our greater community?

I’m still pondering the next steps and reeling with surprise from the tone of the vote. Do you have suggestions?

 

 

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