Integrating technology into academic lives

Angel Hernandez

The lives of typical teenagers revolve around smartphones, tablets, and other technology. The West Ottawa school district has embraced that reality.

Not long ago, West Ottawa voters approved a $90 million bond. An estimated $25 million is to be spent on improving our technological based supplies. Once it was calculated, a tech committee started doing research on how different schools integrated technology into their classrooms. Also they did research on which device would best suit us as a school. When the Chromebooks were brought up, they felt very strong about it. We already use G mail as our school emails, so they would be perfectly compatible.

They came up with a 3 year plan. The first 2 years, the teachers receive the Chromebooks and get the hang of them, then the last year, the students will get them. Next August, the 9th-12th graders will receive them after learning basic instructions. If it is successful, the middle schools may also consider assigning them to the 6th-8th graders.

   To put the plan into action, this past summer, staff members attended the 2015 1:1 Summer Symposium to learn about fully integrating Chromebook use into student education. This event was held East Leyden High School, a school which has experimented with one to one Chromebook use for several years. School representatives from Alabama, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Missouri also attended the symposium. WOHS was the only school from Michigan. The symposium lasted from July 29 to 31, with sessions lasting around an hour. Each day, a different keynote speaker gave a message. Speakers included Catlin Tucker, a Google Certified Teacher and CUE Lead Learner, Steve Dembo, East Leyden’s Director of Technology, and Ken Shelton, a man who holds an M.A. in Education with a specialization in Educational Technology, and New Media Design and Production.

  West Ottawa’s eight staff members that attended the symposium were Instructor Audra Bolhuis, Instructor Brad Vredevoogd, Instructor Robert Myers, Instructor Andy Hamilton, Instructor Raeanne Hart, Instructor Kristine Jernigan, Principal Jason Reinecke, and Principal Bre Bartels.   

“It was a really great experience; we want to provide opportunities for our teachers to learn from other educators who are already using technology in their classrooms in cool, meaningful ways that impact the students,” Principal Todd Tulgestke said. He was pleased to have staff attend the event: “We have a lot of teachers that are excited and are already trying some cool new things in their classroom.”  

Next year, the entire school will take advantage of the opportunities provided by Chromebooks.