A group of six staff members from Minnehaha Elementary made a request for more Chromebooks at the Lake Superior School Board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 11.
Second grade teacher Wendy LeBlanc proposed the district purchase three Chromebook carts for $22,350. Each cart would house charging units for 25 Chromebooks for a total of 75 computers.
"It wouldn't even things out, but it would make it so that we have enough to cover all three classes of a single grade," LeBlanc said.
The school of 392 students has one computer lab with 29 computers. Every classroom has five Chromebooks, but LeBlanc said the devices are 4-5 years old, and there isn't a plan to replace them in the future.
The biggest issues arise when students begin preparing for Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) tests in the spring.
"The computer lab basically becomes off-limits to students in kindergarten through second grade for weeks," LeBlanc said. "The preparation and testing requires the use of all those computers, so we really struggle to find enough computers for anything else we want to do."
The elementary school has an annual technology budget of about $4,000. That money is mostly used for replacing projectors, parts, and incidentals such as headphones.
All of the classes use computers to take Accelerated Reader tests, but LeBlanc said each grades would use the computers in different ways.
- For the kindergarteners, LeBlanc cited the use of QR code listening centers, the Superkids reading program, educational standard based games like Starfall, ABCya and Scholastic.
- First-graders use the computers to access IXL math to complete tasks that align with math standards.
- LeBlanc’s second-graders use computers to research independently, to practice spelling on SpellingCity and to learn basic digital citizenship lessons.
- Third-graders start keyboarding lessons and begin to use programs such as Google Docs and Slides for reports and projects. It's also the year MCA testing begins.
- Fourth grade teachers would like to use IXL mathematics, Reading Wonders, Flipgrid and Google Drive and more.
- Fifth grade teachers use the computers for science projects.
“Currently the science teacher has to visit four other classrooms to round up enough computers when she’s teaching a class of 26,” LeBlanc said.
School board members voiced general support for the request. Superintendent Bill Crandall said he would gather more information and come back to the school board at the next meeting to share what he'd found, and possibly bring the measure up for a vote.