Last summer, The DigitalJLearning Network had the pleasure of taking 15 Jewish day school educators to the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia, PA. The participants shared their learning from the conference and what they hoped to implement in the coming school year. Now we're catching up with these educators and finding out how their new educational technology initiatives are going. Alissa Ossip, Educational Technology Specialist at Yeshiva Har Torah, shares her thoughts in the next installment in this new blog series.
When I was lucky enough to attend ISTE ‘15 last June, I went with the intention to learn everything there was to know about Chromebooks. Our school had just purchased a cart of Chromebooks to be shared among the different classes, and my goal for the school year was for one cart to not be enough - I wanted to have to purchase additional Chromebooks. Well, the goal was certainly accomplished. Most of the teachers have been using the Chromebooks regularly, and meaningfully, and we do not have enough Chromebooks to meet the demands of all the teachers.
The teachers and their students use the Chromebooks in a number of different ways. The middle school students use Google Classroom and the various Google apps (Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, etc.) to collaborate on projects. The 6th graders work on a group history project and use Google Docs to easily collaborate online. Using the “Revision History” feature, the teacher is able to easily see who contributed to the project. Many of the English classes use Google Docs to write. The 7th graders use Google Sheets to chart data for their science experiments. The students create graphs in their math and science classes. The teachers love the ease of use of Google Classroom - they post announcements, assignments, documents and videos that are easily accessible to their students anytime. No more, “But I was absent!” No more, “I lost it!”
Besides the Google Apps, students in all of the grades use the Chromebooks to access various websites to practice their math skills, make videos, and create stories. They access databases to do research. It’s honestly hard to remember what school life was like before we got them.
At ISTE, I learned a lot about different Chromebook extensions - extra features that extends the functionality of the Chrome browser. As long as you log into the Chrome browser, your extensions are accessible, no matter which device you’re using. Some can help students include speech to text tools, text to speech tools, bibliography makers, text highlighters, and tools that clear the clutter from a webpage to improve readability. There are extensions that can help teachers (or anyone) include adblockers, an extension to help you quickly create a list of URLs, and extensions to help you create a new Google doc with just one click. And of course there are extensions just for fun, including Wurstify, which puts a beard onto every image of a face on a webpage. There seems to be something for everybody.
I gave a faculty workshop on Chrome Extensions, which was so well received that those who were not there have been requesting another workshop. We are currently researching which other tools we might explore next, looking into Chromebooks with touch screens, which are easier for younger students. I am very thankful for the opportunity from DJLN that allowed me to attend ISTE.
Want to enhance learning with Chromebooks in your own classroom? We can help! Submit a question to Ask DJLN, our free help desk!
Photos via Kevin Jarrett/Flickr (CC BY 2.0).