Zionsville Community School fifth-grade teachers and students will soon reap the benefits of technology in the classroom, as the ZCS Board of Trustees recently voted to extend the middle school 1:1 laptop program to include 1,900 ZCS fifth-grade students.
The current 1:1 program allows ZCS sixth- through eighth-graders to use either a ZCS or parent-provided laptop in the classroom and will expand to include fifth graders in the 2013-14 school year.
In a ZCS Feb. 11 Board of Trustees Meeting summary, the board stated that the 1:1 program was expanded to enhance the classroom learning experience for students and teachers and to increase the fifth-grade growth rate to that of the sixth- to eighth-graders who currently participate in the laptop program.
Fifth-grade teachers are unable to collaborate with their upperclass colleagues on classroom instruction because they use completely different teaching programs, and the growth rate for upperclass students in math instruction was found to be significantly higher than that of the fifth-grade students who didn’t use laptops in the classroom.
“Our 1:1 initiative has had an incredible influence on the learning process,” said ZCS Supt. Dr. Scott Robison in an email. “Teachable moments occur much more frequently in the classroom when using these technologies. When a student comes up with an intriguing question, the response is no longer, ‘Let’s look that up tonight,’ rather the discussion continues immediately with the information at the students’ fingertips.”
The initial cost of expanding the program is not known at this time, but ZCS is hoping to avoid making a large-scale purchase of new devices by raising participation in the Bring Your Own Device program to 55 percent. With a current participation rate of 34 percent, the BYOD program encourages parents to purchase children their own, personal laptops for classroom instruction.
ZCS will also provide student-rental laptops at the statewide textbook rental fee of 25 percent of the purchase cost of a laptop. ZCS currently provides students Lenovo S12 netbooks, Ace netbooks and Dell D430 laptops for rent, which retail for around $600. If rental laptops need to be purchased as part of the program expansion, ZCS will use money from the textbook rental fund.
“In reality, the most economical way for parents to provide a computer for their students is BYOD,” said Robison. “It is one clean purchase to ownership, and the student has freedom of use, summer use, no interruptions for school maintenance, and filtered use of it while at school.”
If a success, the program could potentially be expanded to include grade levels as low as kindergarten.