SCSD Welcomes Technology in the Classroom

SCSD Welcomes Technology in the Classroom
Posted on 12/05/2019
SHS Students Utilizing Chromebooks

News Release
11-27-19
Contact: Superintendent Karen Douglass
Stevenson-Carson School District
509-427-5674  |  douglassk@scsd303.org 


By Rene Carroll

Stevenson, WA -- Stevenson-Carson School District is implementing Chromebook and Google Classroom technology to enhance educational opportunities in the classroom and beyond. Chromebooks are shareable, web-based laptop devices that can be used to access the internet.  Google Classroom is a free, easy-to-use software tool that helps teachers and students to manage coursework in and outside of the classroom.

“I've been able to integrate the Chromebooks into all of my courses,” said Jeff Griffiths, 5th grade teacher at Carson Elementary.  “In science, we can access videos, vocabulary work, and reference material to support our lessons. In English Language Arts (ELA), we can seamlessly work on essays, collaborate on projects, and research topics we are reading about. The essay work is especially useful because there is no longer a worry of how and where to save files, as it is automatically saved in their Google Drive. No more lost work!”

In math, Griffiths’ students can practice math skills on different sites that track and record their progress. “This is better than worksheets,” said Griffiths, “Both for student learning, and teacher formative assessment. I am able to take quick assessments of students' understanding of our lessons, which drives my instruction.”

“I am excited that now we have enough technology that our students have greater access to it and have the opportunity to use it more frequently,” said Sarah Marino, Carson Elementary Principal and District Curriculum Coordinator.  “Last year, it was difficult for a classroom to get access more than once or twice a week. Now that we have the Chromebooks, most classrooms are using them in some way daily.”

According to Marino, this regular access changes what teacher are able to provide for students, from engaging projects that spark imagination, to fun new ways to learn vocabulary or take a quiz.  Google Classroom also provide opportunities to access programs that allow students to work on the skills they need as an individual, whether that is a skill that they struggle with or one that will stretch them, it can be tailored to the individual student.

The hardware was made available to SCSD students, K through 12, through use of District grant funds, middle school funding based on performance and the gift of 150-170 expired Chromebooks from Evergreen School District.  The middle school has small sets of Chromebooks in each classroom.  The elementary and high school have systems in place to check out the devices on carts that can be rolled into the classroom. 

“I only have six docked computers in my room, so it is very nice for my class of 30 to all have Chromebooks,” said Carly Wright, Stevenson High School Science Teacher.  “A big benefit is that I am able to lead the class into content more quickly.  Everyone does not need to move to a computer lab and get resettled, there are not a bunch of papers to hand out.  We can jump right into the lesson and discussion.”

Wright said one of her favorite uses for Chromebooks in her biology classes is teaching students ways to work with data collected from labs.  “They can input and share the data and collaborate with each other,” she said.  “They use the software to do calculation and choose which graph is the most appropriate to present their findings. Students are not only learning Chrome and Google software, such as Google Doc, Google Sheets and Google Slides, but they are getting experience sharing and collaborating on documents with colleagues.”  These are important 21st century skills that students will use beyond high school in careers or further education.

Professional development for SCSD staff to learn effective use of the technology has been on-going since second semester of the 2018-19 school year.  In addition to staff training on campus from Krista Wambold of Educational Services District 112, many teachers attended a three-day workshop covering Chrome and Google in August at The Dalles. “This was an amazing event that helped bridge the gap between fear and functionality,” said Anthony Winstead, SCSD Technology Director. “The Chrome platform is user friendly and has become the norm in the Pacific Northwest. The Chromebooks help our students with keyboarding, word processing, problem solving, collaboration, ownership and pride.”

Staff from Carson Elementary participated in the summer training and are now incorporating “Tech Tips” into their Wednesday professional development time.  Teacher leaders share something that they have learned that is engaging kids so others can learn to use it in their classrooms.  “Teachers are loving the greater access to technology,” said Marino. “It has improved the way they are able to meet students’ needs and engage them.” 

“Science academic vocabulary can be a hurdle for many students,” explained Griffiths. “To combat this, I use a vocabulary learning site called Quizlet. On this, I make lists of the terms we are using in each unit which students are then able to study and test themselves on. I am also able to run Quizlet Live sessions in which students must work with teammates to match definitions and words in a race to get to the goal number of matches without making mistakes, all while on their own computers. The kids have really loved this activity because it gets them moving around the room, easily puts them in different teams, and they tell me that they learn from their classmates while ‘playing’.”

“Every student has their own Google account that they sign up on their Chromebooks and store their work in their Google Drive,” explained Wright “When students are home, they can use a phone or computer to work on projects.  This helps to create a seamless transition between school and homework. Not all learning takes place in the classroom.  We do not have that much time.”  Wright can also make deadlines for assignments after school hours so if a student needs extra time to complete and submit an assignment, they can do so from home.

“We cannot stop technology,” said Winstead. “It is embedded in our everyday life form our TVs to our refrigerators.  Our students use technology every day. Educators are preparing students for careers that may not even exist. These tools taught through Google Chrome allow integration that is helping students develop a positive online presence, digital citizenship, and appropriate use; all of which are applicable life skills beyond the classroom.” In a recent study, 92% of students globally, will need digital skills and 45% of jobs will require workers who can configure and work confidently with digital systems and technology (ZDNET 2018).

“Though we do a lot of work in traditional notebooks, I try to give students many opportunities to use technology to enhance their learning,” said Griffiths.  “One of the most beneficial uses is for students to be able to engage in research and experience phenomena that we cannot physically bring into the classroom. Being able to bring parts of the larger world into our corner of Skamania County has been wonderful. Students can see natural wonders, interact with simulations which demonstrate scientific principles, and research concepts they need clarification on. I'm also able to put resources and materials online, cutting down the adverse effect of students missing a day of class.”