Leyden District 212 Teachers question students on computer use

At the beginning of the 2012 school year, Leyden High School District 212 issued laptop computers to every one of its 3,400 students. An early innovator in what’s referred to as 1:1 computing, the district held a symposium in the summer of 2013 to share its experience with other school districts. From July 30 to Aug. 1, the district held a second symposium. This one attracted 400 teachers and administrator from ten states.

The last session of the 1:1 Symposium was a bit of a reversal with students sitting on the stage of the East Leyden auditorium and teachers in the audience. Teachers questioned students about their experience using laptops. Questions were sent in electronically and read by Mikkel Storaasli, assistant superintendent of curriculum.

Q. What is one piece of advice you would offer for a teacher and for students?

Yaritza Velasquez: It can be hard to stay focused with a computer in front of you. You can focus on homework for 20 minutes, then give yourself five minutes of fun (games, chat, etc), then go back to work. For teachers, its having patience for students who are struggling to stay focused. We will get there eventually.

Alexis Garcia: For teachers, you don’t have to go all the way into it and you don’t have to ignore it. I know one teacher who never has us use laptops and some have us bring it every day. Different people have different ways.

Q. How do you think digital immersion will help you once you leave high school?

Alexis Garcia: It helps me to become a more independent learner. College, you’re going to be on your own a lot of the time, when teachers are not available to us.

Q. What did you find frustrating with 1:1 technology?

Victoria Baez: Some teachers who didn’t know how to incorporate laptops into the classroom.

Yaritza Velasquez: The system crashed. Once.

Q. I’ve heard some students misuse the technology. How do you see students misusing technology and what should teachers be doing?

Alexis Garcia: If you have a computer in front of you, you’re bound to be tempted to look for a game online, chat with friends. Leyden found more ways to keep tabs on students.

Ariana Cardenas: There were a lot of, particularly, boys in class who were playing games. They’d say they were taking notes. It was a lot of intense note taking.

Q. What’s the best project you’ve worked on since going 1:1?

Sweety Patel: In my consumer education class, we used this cool website. We got to choose a format like a newspaper style, with a newspaper font. We got to make a newspaper online and have pictures and captions.

Victoria Baez: English. We had to read a summer book, write a speech and read it to the classroom. I took the opportunity to make a slideshow. I felt so confident up there.

Alyssa Lisowski: AP Europe. We used Google Maps to do a virtual tour of the places we explored.

Q. How has learning changed since we went 1:1?

Alexis Garcia: It gives you a lot more ability to communicate with teachers. You can communicate with them 24/7.

Ronahy Alzagha: You don’t have the excuse that the dog ate my homework anymore when it’s on a computer. We have a whole world at our fingertips. Everything is a lot faster. Typing makes everything faster.

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