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Rome High School freshmen settle in with Chromebooks; students, teachers list advantages

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With four months of Chromebook ownership under their belts, ninth-graders at Rome High are enjoying becoming experts with the devices, but aren’t too excited about one small change in their lives.

“They have 24-hour access to us,” laughed Meredith Burton. “They can send you an alert about an assignment any time during the day, so there is no chance they will forget and you won’t have to worry about it.”

Rome City Schools officials gave Chromebooks to every ninth-grader in August.

The initiative is part of the system’s goal to have the electronic devices in the hands of every student from the second grade through 12th.

For the ninth-graders, the Chromebooks have become an integral part of their school day.

“It’s great to have such easy access to the resources we need,” said Meredith. “We are all on the same program and on the same page.”

Anna Cadle said she enjoys the apps the students can use, “and we can watch videos about our lessons.”

Teachers also are finding the devices an asset.

“Students can download an app that they can use as a graphing calculator,” said Haley Chandler, math teacher. “A few students have one of their own, but the calculators are at least $100 and this app allows them to get one for free.”

Teachers enjoy an app like Cahoots, which allows them to see how each student is working problems during class. It automatically shows the teacher if a student gets one wrong, and also offers the advantage of students being able to show the teacher what they know without having to be called upon.

“They don’t have to say one word,” said Chandler. “They don’t have to worry about being shy or being embarrassed if they have the wrong answer.”

Chandler added that she can look back at how each class did at the end of the day and if one specific problem particularly tripped up the students, she knows exactly what to go over again the next day.

“There is no confusion like before, when you could sometimes think they got it but never really knew for sure,” she said.

The device’s ability to keep a student organized is also a boon, everyone agreed.

“I am not an organized person,” admitted Robert Connor. “This makes it impossible to lose anything.”

Lack of paper is also a benefit, but there are still a few cases where teachers and students have realized the pencil and paper method is best.

“Graphing is a case where you need paper,” said Chandler. “We also found that when students were using the computers to type their notes, they weren’t remembering as well and were not reading over them again.

“We started encouraging them to still handwrite notes because you retain the information more easily.”

Jamar Roberts thinks the Chromebooks are a help to teachers, too.

“Hey, it makes the tests easier to grade,” he laughed.

However, the prospect of the devices being used during snow days inspires less enthusiasm.

“It’s great to have them if you miss something,” admitted Anna. “Because the teacher can send it to you to do at home, but right now, bad weather is our only excuse. If the power goes out, we can’t use them.”

According to Fleming, the ninth-graders will be trainers for the next class who gets the Chromebooks.

“We figured they are the real experts,” he said. “They’ve figured out the shortcuts.”