Tyrone schools seeing success with Chromebook program

TYRONE – The Tyrone Area School District is piloting a one-to-one Chromebook program with its ninth graders, and teachers involved in the pilot said these students are developing key skills in the program.

Teresa Myers, who teaches science in health, told the school board at its Tuesday meeting that the laptops were “money well spent.”

“These kids are far above where the upperclassmen are now,” Myers said.

The students use them in many of their classes throughout the day: math, English, science, history and a first-period “advisory” class.

The Chromebooks run Google’s Chrome operating system, which is cloud-based and connects to the student’s Google accounts. Through those accounts, they can email teachers, share and work on assignments in Google documents, take quizzes and participate in classroom surveys.

Sarah Diller, one of three freshmen on-hand to demonstrate the Chromebooks to the board, said one of her classmates found another use for the laptops. He was able to rig the school’s door decorating contest.

“He pretty much voted more times than there are kids in the school,” she said.

The three students helped school board members log into the Chromebooks as they would in their own classes. The board members then took a survey in the Google Form application, which the teachers use regularly to poll students.

“I can get that form back almost immediately, so I can tell what my students are learning in the classroom,” Myers said.

Paige Umholtz, another ninth-grader, said the the students appreciate getting immediate feedback, too. When they take quizzes online, they can see which answers they got right instantly through programs like Quizlet.

The online applications add variety, too, to test-taking, she said.

“It’s fun, because there’s different games you can do or tests you can take,” Umholtz said.

For group projects, Umholtz said, students can interact and use the same Google document to compile and share information.

The teachers use Google documents similarly during meetings, to make sure everyone has access to the most accurate information, said Leah Deskevich, an English teacher.

“[We] are never missing anything that’s shared,” Deskevich said.

Glen Drager, the district’s network administrator, said that he currently in the process of evaluating the Chromebook program and is surveying teachers and students on their effectiveness.

He said getting information directly from the users is incredibly important to helping the program grow.

“We will continue to adapt this program and develop it for the future,” Drager said.

Leslie Estep, the district’s director of curriculum, said the Chromebook program is also helping students with several tenants of the new core standards: research, collaboration and using technology.

It also allows teachers and administrators to evaluate the computer skills that ninth-graders should come to high school with and determine where possible issues many lie, she said.

“A lot of those things that the new standards are calling for the ninth-graders are doing with the Chromebooks,” Estep said.

Mirror Staff Writer Paige Minemyer is at 946-7535.