High school students in the South Western and Eastern York school districts will have new laptops in their hands in the upcoming school year, adding to the number of York County students who will have a school-provided device.
At South Western High School, four classes will start a pilot program in the fall, said superintendent Barbara Rupp. Those classes will help determine best practices and new ways to use the technology in the classroom while other teachers undergo professional development to bolster the use of the devices.
Sometime before the second semester starts, each of the students will have his or her own laptop to use at school and at home.
"The opportunity for every kid to have the same device is just so unbelievably exciting," Rupp said.
New learning: The days of students regurgitating facts they can easily search for on Google are about to be a thing of the past, Rupp said. Instead, teachers will be encouraging students to think deeper about topics for better understanding.
Eastern York completed a pilot program this year with three high school classes, said Larry DiPiano, the technology director at the district. All of Eastern's approximately 700 students will receive their own Chromebook at the beginning of the school year.
Rupp and DiPiano said the laptops will allow teachers to customize learning for different students' skill levels.
"We're looking at enhancing the curriculum through this," DiPiano said.
Eastern will lease the Chromebooks in a four-year lease with Hewlett-Packard. It will cost the district about $57,000 for the first year, DiPiano said.
South Western's board opted to complete a one-time purchase for their 1,370 laptops, a cost that will be $405,520, said Jeff Mummert, South Western's business manager.
Technology integration: Both schools opted not to purchase new computers for other buildings this year. Instead, newer computers that had been used in labs at the high school level will be moved to update the technology at middle school and elementary buildings, DiPiano and Rupp said.
The Chromebooks will allow teachers to integrate resources such as websites and other online tools in their lessons, knowing all of their students can use the same technology, DiPiano said.
"Usually a stumbling block for the newest and greatest thing is access for students," DiPiano said, adding many students wouldn't otherwise have a personal computer at their disposal.
Teachers in Eastern York High School will meet weekly during the upcoming year to discuss best practices for the devices in the classroom, DiPiano said.
For middle school: And at South Western, the upcoming year will serve as a pilot for expanding the program to lower grade levels, too. Rupp said the eventual goal is to put computers in the hands of younger students.
Middle school students will be next, perhaps as early as next year, and the board will continue discussing if using laptops would be effective for students in fourth or fifth grades in the future, Rupp said.
Other school districts, including Central York, have started programs in recent years that provide high school students with a computer or iPad. Central's board voted in June to approve a new iPad lease that gives a device to all middle and high school students.
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