Equipping all students with computing device

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One student, one laptop: A plan put together by the Merrillville Community School Corporation focuses on providing a computing device to all students in the classroom, including these children at Merrillville Intermediate School. | Supplied photo

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The Merrillville Community School Corporation has been developing a classroom one-to-one technology plan for the last two years. This plan focuses on providing a computing device to all students for use in the classroom. The corporation currently has 15 iPad carts and 13 laptop carts being used in classrooms throughout the corporation. Classroom teachers have been able to use the devices to help remediate and enrich students using small group instruction and also whole class instruction. This current project has allowed the school corporation to see how students with devices have become more engaged in daily classroom activities. The school corporation is working to continue to grow this one-to-one technology plan and expand it to many more classrooms.

This past summer the school corporation received a U.S. Department of Education Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) grant. This grant allows for the purchase of technology equipment for all of the classrooms at Merrillville Intermediate School, which serves 1,000 fifth and sixth graders in the corporation. The main focus moving forward with a plan of this magnitude is to implement a staff professional development plan that will provide teachers with all of the necessary skills to use the technology with their students.

The school corporation is focusing on a professional development model where a trainer would be available in the school to help staff develop their technology skills. This trainer would also go into classrooms and model the use of the technology for the teacher and be available throughout the day to answer questions and provide assistance. The trainer would also build on the ever-changing technology needs and integrate those changes into the daily curriculum.

The QZAB grant that MIS and the school corporation received allowed for a matching partnership with the National Education Foundation of Alexandria, Va. NEF has provided licensing for Pearson Successmaker, a computer program that will be used in the building to help remediate students in reading and math. The partnership will also allow for MIS and the Merrillville School Corporation to build academies for parents and students to learn the technology.

Merrillville Intermediate School will be adding iPads for use by all students as well as providing all staff with iPads as part of the grant. Classrooms will be outfitted with Apple TVs so that teachers can quickly and easily show students what they are seeing on their iPad. The Apple TVs will work in conjunction with the existing projectors in the classrooms to provide teachers with large screen interactive whiteboards with the use of various iPad apps. The grant will also allow for wireless infrastructure updates for the entire building.

Receiving this QZAB grant is a great opportunity to grow technology in a way that allows student to interact with the latest technology and develop their future skills. The ability to provide all of the students at Merrillville Intermediate School with a device is a great achievement that the corporation has been working towards for all of its students.

Provided by Merrillville Community School Corporation