Elm to Make an Early Transition to 1:1 Computing After Winter Break

Elm students use Chromebooks while seated in the second-floor hallway.

As can be seen here, Elm students are no strangers to Chromebooks, but they will become even more familiar with the devices when the school moves to 1:1 computing on Jan. 7. All students will be assigned a Chromebook for use in and out of the classroom. (District 401 photo by Dave Porreca)

The era of 1:1 computing will arrive at Elm Middle School sooner than expected.

Originally Elm was scheduled to go 1:1 next August, at the start of the 2019-20 school year.

Instead, the move will be made on Jan. 7, when students and faculty return from winter break.

Elm will become the second school in District 401 to assign all of its students a Chromebook for use in and out of the classroom. Elmwood Park High School has been 1:1 since August of this year.

So why the early move for Elm?

"It was a combination of things," said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nicolas Wade. "The high school's transition to 1:1 went smoothly, and between that and the increasing demand from students, staff and parents to be 1:1, well, we just felt the timing was right."

The arrival of 1:1 means that Elm students and faculty will be able to take full advantage of electronic texts as well as the applications available in Google's G Suite for Education.

Elm students use a Chromebook in class.

PHOTO: Elm students already use Chromebooks in their classes, but the transition to 1:1 means they will each be assigned their own device that they will be responsible for throughout the school year. Click image for larger view (District 401 photo by Dave Porreca).

"I believe the District's whole learning experience has been transformed with the shift to e-texts and the use of Google Classroom and other apps," Dr. Wade said. 

"The devices are now going to be accessible to students during and outside of the school day, allowing for additional opportunities for lessons and resources that are currently limited."

Elm Principal Ms. Rebecca Siegel announced her school's early transition to 1:1 in a letter to families on Dec. 17.

"Building and District administration have been working on a plan to ensure that Chromebook handout goes quickly and smoothly on the day your child returns to Elm after the winter break," Ms. Siegel said in her letter. 

Once assigned their Chromebooks, Elm students will be expected to bring their devices to school each day and keep them charged.

Elm students work on Chromebooks while seated in the school's second-floor hallway.

PHOTO: Thanks to the Technology Initiative's saturation approach to devices, students are already comfortable with Chromebooks. Click image for larger view (D401 photo by Dave Porreca).

The District's Technology Department will provide support in the case of hardware problems. Loaners will be provided to any students whose Chromebooks are turned in for repairs, and students will have access to an online help desk where they may request assistance.

A cash-only Chrome Stop will also be in place, where Elm students will be able to buy Chromebook accessories such as wireless mice, screen wipes and earbuds.

According to Dr. Wade, Elm's early move to 1:1 is the product of the District Technology Initiative's emphasis on gradually but thoroughly preparing teachers and students for technology-based instructional change.

"I felt the District, as a whole, did a good job of slowly moving into the practice of 1:1 and the device saturation in the elementary buildings," Dr. Wade said. 

"This made students and staff feel more comfortable with this significant change, and the staff are doing some really fantastic things with what they have learned and are becoming increasingly creative. And the student and parent response has been overwhelmingly positive to what they are seeing and experiencing as well."

An Elm students uses a Chromebook in class.

PHOTO: Chromebooks will be distributed to Elm Middle School students when they return from winter break on Jan. 7. Click image for larger view (D401 photo by Dave Porreca).

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