Sunday, October 7, 2007

iBook Roll Out 2007

by George Crawford

This is the sixth year that the 7th and 8th grade students at the Jonesboro Elementary School have had their MLTI iBooks provided by the state. This past Monday we had our annual parent and student meeting on the iBooks. The purpose of this meeting is to "show off" the iBooks and what they can do to parents. We also talk to the parents and the students about the rules of the use of the iBooks and some of the possible pitfalls of not following the rules.

This year we had almost all of our 18 7th and 8th graders. I showed the parents and students the software on the iBooks including Google Earth, GarageBand, iMovie, and Microsoft Office that we have. I also showed them some of the 'freebies" that I added. These were open source programs that I learned about after attending the FOSSED conference this summer.

Stellarium, a planetarium software was added along with Celestia for astronomy. I also added Smell-o-Mints, an interactive periodic table software and also AbiWord for word processing. I also showed an iMovie done by one of last year's 8th graders that showed how his brother lost a canoe joust.

The getting of an iBook has become a "rite of passage" for our 7th graders and they look forward to this. It is not as much a novelty as they were 5 years ago but the 7th graders still feel that it is important.

We also are dealing with the issue of students taking home their iBooks this year. I am still waiting for our School Committee to pass my take home policy. The students are excited about the prospect of taking home their laptops and I am a bit nervous as the Technology Coordinator. Other schools through the ACTEM list have indicated that the laptops going home on the whole are successful.

Things to Think About:

How does your school "roll out" their MLTI laptops to students?

What are some of the benefits and pitfalls of the MLTI laptops?

How can my school minimize problems from the laptops?

What is my school's laptop take home policy if they have one?

What can the high school MLTI learn from the middle school program and how can the middle school project share ideas locally with the high school?

What are the benefits of one to one computing in schools and what are the pitfalls?


Ernie Easter said...

In New Sweden students get their iBooks on opening day. Eighth graders who took their iBooks home last year took theirs home the first night. During the next week we held a parent meeting for seventh graders and their parents where we reviewed the software, showed examples of projects from last year, and discussed internet safety and home care expectations. From the look on some of the seventh graders faces, Christmas came early in New Sweden this year.

Laura Richter said...

In Skowhegan we have been sending laptops home since year one. We do not get them out on opening day like good ol Ernie, but we try really hard to get them out by the end of September. It was our teachers who really pushed for laptops going home the first year because they were assigning so many projects or homework activities, that the students just needed to have the tool at home so they could move right along in the curriculum. It was the math teacher who made a graph showing how much of his time had to be spent showing the "how to's" but if they could take them home, he would be so far ahead of the game during the school day. We decided to go with Safeware insurance for 32.00 and parents found it fair. We do help with those who are too poor to pay. One of the best parts of this iniative is the equity issue so why would any school district stuggle with letting poor kids take home such a powerful tool? We have parents using the laptops regularly and some even have part time jobs using the laptop. I will say that I do give well thought out training sessions to the students going over all the aspects of respect and care for the tool. The teachers follow up and have regular check-up day examining the laptop and making sure they are clean and are in good repair. If the teachers care about the machine and they count on it for assignments, you will find that they encourage kids to be respectful and they help them with the upkeep. Our students realize the worth because it is so necessary for completing work. I know that there is the "careless" factor because I do deal with any fallen laptop so I know that these things happen. If I see too much damage in any given classroom or team, I make an effort to get out there and address with both staff and students. The bottom line is, if the tool is essential, all else will fall into place.