1:1 Tablet Program
In the spring of 2009 the commitment was made by the Groves Academy administration, board, and staff to begin a 1:1 tablet program in the Middle and Upper Schools. This came about after a number of years of research and expansion of the mobile lab model using laptop carts.
Groves Academy’s one-to-one program is more than an infusion of technology into the school. It is a way to examine education’s best practices and determine what can be enhanced by technology. The availability of technology and continuous connectivity has forced the Middle and Upper School teachers to consider the ways they give and collect homework, communicate with parents, and assess student learning.
In Middle School, students are using their laptop tablets to take notes, do work at home and in class, create projects, research topics, share work with others, and use assistive technology to help with reading or getting ideas from mind to paper. Many teachers have reported a reduction of unfinished or lost homework, and an increase in the quality and quantity of work. The Middle School has chosen a structured, stepped approach to implementing the tablets into their classrooms and their school day.
The Upper School has chosen a directed but more organic approach to technology integration. The use of Google Apps has proven to be of great benefit to both students and parents. Teachers send assignments to a student’s calendar, which is shared with parents. Worksheets, readings, and other materials are accessible from anywhere with an internet connection and can be shared digitally. Assignments are collected via e-mail or by digital submission.
In the Lower School, students receive regular keyboarding instruction in Groves Academy's media center. Lower School teachers have access to laptop carts, which can be checked out of the media center and used in classrooms for special projects, reports, or extra practice. Lower School teachers can also arrange to provide additional computer access to those students who require it.
Training staff, students, and parents has been key to our success with the program. We have made a concerted effort to ensure that the stumbling blocks which limit the use of technology have been removed. Faculty members are trained by fellow teachers who have become ‘experts’ in certain areas, and trainers are brought in as necessary. Students go through training at the beginning of the year and then throughout the year as they learn new techniques and software. Parents have also been brought into the mix through initial parent meetings that address issues that were raised during the first year of the program.
As society becomes more and more digitally connected we must teach our students digital citizenship the same way we have taught civics in the past. These lessons must include not only the rules and regulations of communication through digital media, but also instruction to give them a sense of the extraordinary possibilities of our evolving digital environment.
Other Assistive Technologies
Assistive technology is a “catch all” term that includes assistive or adaptive technologies and devices for people with disabilities. Assistive technology promotes greater independence by enabling people to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish, or had great difficulty accomplishing, by providing enhancements to the technology needed to accomplish such tasks.
At Groves Academy, we use a variety of software that has been specially designed for students with learning disabilities. Three of the most popular software titles we use in the school are:
Kurzweil 3000: For text-to-speech and study skills. Kurzweil 3000 is a powerful way for students who struggle with printed text to access curriculum materials so they can keep up with assigned reading, learn critical study skills, and successfully complete writing projects and test independently.
XMind: For brainstorming and mind mapping. XMind is intended to assist users in capturing ideas, organizing various charts, and collaborative sharing those ideas.
Dragon Naturally Speaking: Speech recognition software. Dragon helps students with learning disabilities to express themselves in writing more easily by eliminating reading and spelling concerns that impede their progress.