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There’s an app for that

Ochoco Elementary acquires chrome laptops and staff and students are incorporating Google Apps into their everyday curriculum

by: RAMONA MCCALLISTER/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - From Front, Clockwise: Issac Hugie, Moses Seengo-Freauff, Natalie Dill, and Kenna Woodward gather around Ochoco Elementary Principal Dave Robison. The group received their first lesson on the Chrome laptops on Tuesday, and teachers now have a portable classroom set of the notebooks for student use.

There was a great deal of commotion in the principal’s office at Ochoco Elementary School on Tuesday afternoon.
   Amidst peals of laughter from a dancing, miniature robot, four fifth-grade students filed into the room. Principal Dave Robison further added to the atmosphere when he met them with four new Samsung Chrome laptops to give them their first lesson on the slim and shiny notebooks.
   Leadership students Kenna Woodward, Natalie Dill, Issac Hugie, and Moses Seengo-Freauff learned how to set up their account in Google Apps. They are the first students at their school to learn the new technology, and will be helping their peers learn how to set up the laptops as well.
   The notebooks are part of the School Improvement Grant, and the school received a total of 34 new machines. They are kept on a cart, which will be shared among classrooms as a set. More importantly, most of the staff received training for the Google Apps and “cloud” technology, which the leadership students were eager to learn and begin using.
   “Aren’t they cool?” remarked Robison of the slim and portable laptops.
   “I like that they are a little bit smaller,” commented Woodward. “They are really light.”
   “It fits in little spaces,” said Dill. “If you use them at school, they will fit on your desk.”
   Google apps has also been in place at the Crook County Middle School for several years. When they received a grant from Google in 2010, the school became the recipients of Chrome Notebooks — one for every student. Ochoco will be using the same technology, and Robison is hopeful that his students will go to the middle school equipped with the tools to make a seamless transition.
   “The real challenge is to make sure that it is a tool, not a toy,” said Robison. “It’s not the fun, exciting things that matter it’s a great tool for the work they need to do.”
   He added that he wants to impress on students that they should enjoy them and remember that they are a new tool, just like paper and pencil.
   The students will use the wireless technology for writing, research, keyboarding, presentations, and graphic organization. There are several routers in the school, so teachers are able to allow their students to set up their accounts with a wireless network. All work is saved in an account set up through Gmail, and students can access their work at home as well.
   Robison said that as they become more familiar with the notebooks, they can begin to learn how to make small movies and presentations. The Chrome software allows students to access an entire suite of applications, including keyboarding.
   “One of the main things we are going to use it for initially is keyboarding,” he noted.
   Robison emphasized that each student will have their own account, and will have to log in to use their account. He said that this makes it easy to manage the network, and the security aspect is easy to use. Since Google Apps are also free, the district saves a great deal of money in software and licensing fees.
   Teachers at Ochoco Elementary will also have a host of applications at their disposal with the new technology. They will be able to save their lesson plans online, and can access these anywhere they have internet. They also have collaborative capabilities with several programs, and can share or chat live with other teachers in the district, regardless of location.
   “Anywhere they are, they can collaborate with their colleagues and there are all kinds of forums.” said Robison.
   He said that he is hoping to have all his teachers trained on the technology by December.