Thursday, 11 May 2017

Chromebooks Making a Real Difference at Bringhurst

Bringhurst Primary School took delivery of a new trolley of 30 Dell Chromebooks this Easter.
Already the new computers are allowing children to access their own Google Drive accounts to: store their documents; retrieve homework which they have uploaded at home; create ‘Slides’ from information researched; and much, much more!

Before the Chromebooks, the school already had two classes refurbished as “Star Classrooms” (the standard David Ross Education Trust design), with a large touchscreen on the wall and a hidden PC; making it essentially a giant iPad. However, the equipment available to pupils (30 netbooks) was on its last legs - netbook computers that were slow to boot up, keyboards with missing keys and inflexible to use.

In comparison to the old equipment, the new Chromebooks have brought consistency, easy access and simplicity of use.

Teachers can now plan knowing they can rely on the Chromebooks being fully charged (thanks to the intelligent charging system on the trolley: charging laptops on a cycle) and that children, who find some aspects of computers challenging, are not put off by a complex user interface, since the Chromebook’s design is incredibly simple. They can also use IT as needed because the time to get the devices into use, and put away again seamlessly means the use of technology can flow into lessons with minimal fuss.

In the photo above, children are researching information on a chosen famous person and inputting it into a Google Slide. They are working in groups and attributing roles to each person: one to research information; one to design the Slide; one to type the information. The Google software allows pupils to collaborate on the one Google Slide at the same time! This has resulted in reduced class time on one subject; opportunities for peer assessment; and a focus on team-building skills. At the end of the lesson, the pupils shared their Slide on the class’s large touchscreen. A future lesson will use Google Forms to allow pupils the opportunity to assess the quality of the group’s Slide.

Although the school are using Chromebooks, they aren’t tied in any way to using only Google software, making extensive use of products from companies like Microsoft such as OneNote to support learning. One class within the school are planning to use Microsoft’s ‘Skype in the Classroom’ to enhance their topic of the Blue Abyss by Skyping a Marine Biologist - they intend to share the feedback of this lesson on Twitter.

Commenting on the Chromebooks, Szabi (Year 5) said, ‘These new Chromebooks are really fast, so searching is easier - and safer with ‘Kiddle’. What I like the best is the trackpad is much more responsive and the time it takes to load a webpage is faster.’

Raphy (Year 4) said, ‘We have really enjoyed our Chromebooks. We love working on Google Slides together in groups. It’s awesome when you open the lids because they turn on straight away! We love our Google Drives and being able to work on our projects at home.’

Bringhurst Primary School’s ICT has improved significantly over the last few years: not only evident from the work produced, but also from the positive feedback from both teachers and parents. Now, with the new Chromebooks, plus the increased opportunities made available through the Star Classroom, Bringhurst Primary School are looking forward to further developing its ICT, with support from DRET, so that children leave Year 6 confident and prepared for the rapidly changing digital world.

It’s not just the students who are developing their embedded IT use - as part of DRET’s eLearning strategy, two of Bringhurst’s teachers are involved in the Star Classroom initiative aimed at improving and enhancing their eLearning practices, and Bringhurst have been involved in whole staff training in specific areas of eLearning and the use of IT.

If you’re working for DRET and want to find out more for your school, then please get in touch.

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