Mobile Computing

Michigan District Successful in First Year of 1-to-1 Program

Nearly two years after voters in the Grand Haven (MI) Area Public Schools approved a $19-million bond issue to enhance the use of technology for its 6,200 K-12 students, every student in kindergarten through fourth grade has an iPad and every student in grade 5-12 has a Chromebook.

Even though the bond issue was approved in May 2014, District Technology Director Doug Start said the district took the entire 2014-15 school year to plan, prepare and test devices so that teachers would be ready when school started the first full year of a new 1-to-1 program last fall.

"That was critical in ensuring the devices were successfully implemented," Start said in a report in the Grand Haven Tribune. "This preparation reduced anxiety. While not everyone is at the same level, we can say that technology is being used daily where appropriate and effective for each student."

For instance, said White Pines Intermediate School sixth-grade teacher Gary Knight, it's made his job more efficient and less time-consuming. Now, rather than photocopying lessons in advance, he sends students the information they need electronically in a matter of seconds.

His extended learning class students are working together on a digital project to help a local United States Coast Guard unit recruit new crew members in the area.

"It's fun and easy to work with," said sixth-grader Tucker Kooi of his Chromebook.

Nate Mihalek, a seventh-grade teacher at Lakeshore Middle School, said it's opened up new options for students who crave different ways of learning. In his science classes, he gives his students different options to prepare assignments. In some cases, it may be writing a traditional paper, but it could also be making a video or choosing other mediums that interest them.

"It empowers them to go out and seek the information themselves and be a digester of information," Mihalek said.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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