Teachers become students with CLASS

“The kids will not have an issue with this.”

Perhaps that’s part of the reason more than 325 Lincoln Public Schools secondary educators became students themselves during a special training day this summer - as LPS prepares to enter the first phase of a new three-year Instructional Technology initiative in 2015-16.

Library media services coordinator Chris Haeffner further explained.

“Students can turn their work in digitally, you can respond to it digitally, and return it to them digitally, without having to print. It will require a change in the way we do stuff, and a change in the way we think about it.”

The Connected Learning for the Achievement of Students and Staff (CLASS) Bootcamp focused on implementing the student Chromebooks in the classroom by demonstrating best practices and tools available.

CLASS is perhaps better known as the initiative that will place a Chromebook computer with each student in third- through twelfth-grade over the next three years. Chromebook 11 from Dell will be distributed to students entering sixth grade and the focus programs (Arts & Humanities, Zoo School), the International Baccalaureate program at Lincoln High School, and The Career Academy this fall.

Topics during the bootcamp included Google Drive basics, intro to Chrome and Chromebooks for the classroom, Google Classroom, using Synergy’s new tools to communicate, and Hapara for digital classroom management.

Hapara, for example, is a suite of tools that helps teachers facilitate digital work done by students in LPS Google Drive, as well as allowing them to interact with and manage Chromebooks in their classroom.

When choosing between Google Classroom and Hapara, computing services application specialist Chris Pultz encouraged the group to find what fits them best.

“You have access to both of these tools. You can choose the one that fits with what you are trying to do, that feels most comfortable for you,” Pultz said. “Or, you might find you don’t have to choose. You may find you can use both of these tools, ebb and flow.”

By the end of the four sessions, staff were excitedly talking with their peers and team members about ways to implement the Chromebooks into their current teaching and curriculum.

“All of my students already use some kind of technology in the district, and I think the Chromebooks are going to be a nice addition to what they already use,” said Patricia Daberkow, a team leader in the LPS special education department.  “Some of my students have really struggled with writing for years and never really turned in complete projects or really struggle with completing any of their assignments. I think the Chromebook will offer lots of different opportunities, and their software, apps and extensions will support them so that they are able to complete their projects.”

Scott Middle School sixth-grade teacher Suzie Olberding added, “We are looking at all curricular areas. So let’s say we want our math students to research a famous mathematician, or our science students, or even going into social studies, the different elements of research we can bring into the classroom using the web through Hapara and through google classroom amazes me.”

Kim Ridder, also a sixth-grade teacher at Scott Middle School, was enthusiastic about the possibilities of being the first to introduce Chromebooks into the classroom, “This is just making everything better. It's not going to replace anything. It's going to make everything better for our students.”

The teachers agree that with these new tools, they will be able to use current classroom management techniques to increase student engagement.

“We have wonderful management techniques already instilled in the classroom,” said Rochelle Senkbeil, Lux Middle School sixth-grade teacher. “We are talking as a team to get some things in place too, so that if we have signals for the students, they are able to follow them and respect that when we are not using the devices, that they be where they are suppose to be - on task in the classroom.”

Lori Nakagawa from Lincoln Southwest High School added, “The idea that you can do selective or focus browsing I think is really positive. Just some of the features that make it easier for teachers to see what students have done, what they are working on, in real time I think is just important.”

Nakagawa continued on saying, “I also like that as far as the classroom management, in Google Classroom you can give the assignments and just have the papers there for ready access. So if they lose the paper it's there; and program, the name, and the title of the assignment. There's just a lot of things that it helps to make it easier for the teacher and the student and I think students will really respond to that.”

When asked about whether or not students will be ready to embrace the Chromebooks, Scott Middle School sixth-grade teach Mark Danley summed up staff perceptions best, “They're ready for it. I think there are a few kids that'll need to get caught up, but for the most part, it's the world they're in that we are trying to get caught up to. We're looking forward to it.”


Published: July 22, 2015, Updated: July 22, 2015

"There's just a lot of things that it helps to make it easier for the teacher and the student and I think students will really respond to that.”

Lori Nakagawa, Lincoln Southwest High School