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Last updated: October 02. 2013 4:59PM - 2814 Views
By - dbroyles@civitasmedia.com



Mount Airy Middle School sixth grade students Ellie Martin and Meredith Marion collaborate as they try out Google Chromebooks that were issued earlier this week. District Information Officer Carrie Venable said 203 Chromebooks have been purchased.
Mount Airy Middle School sixth grade students Ellie Martin and Meredith Marion collaborate as they try out Google Chromebooks that were issued earlier this week. District Information Officer Carrie Venable said 203 Chromebooks have been purchased.
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Mount Airy Middle School sixth graders received new Google Chromebooks as part of the city school system’s ongoing 1:1 initiative.


“The students have patiently awaited the launch of the Chromebooks since August,” said Mount Airy Middle School Principal Susan Bunch.” There was so much excitement in the air on the sixth grade hallway today, our students were very, very happy.”


Bunch explained the purpose of this 1:1 initiative is to use technology tools to enhance instruction. She said school officials hope the Chromebooks will assist in engaging students and create a learning environment that encourages critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity.


“Regarding internet access, we have upgraded our network to support all of these devices at our school,” Bunch said. “We do not foresee any issues. The first day (Monday) went great.”


District Information Officer Carrie Venable said 203 Chromebooks have been purchased.


“We’re getting the Chromebooks for $280 each. We don’t need a grant or state or federal money to pay for these, we’re using our own dollars,” said Schools Superintendent Dr. Gregory Little. “This is a financially sustainable project for the Mount Airy City Schools,” he said. “And our ultimate goal is to equip every student in grades six through 12 with these devices.”


Little said the 1:1 initiative came about as a result of the Community-based Strategic Plan that was completed in February. He indicated the project aligns with the strategic plan and provides students the opportunity to create, collaborate, communicate and think critically.


“The online resources support how students learn today,” Little said. “They are online at home and away from school and we don’t want to turn that off while they are here but we want to focus that on the skills they will need for their futures. This clearly aligns with School Improvement Plan for Mount Airy Middle School and the skills that teachers strongly feel our students need.”


Little was referring to the plan’s goal of creating a digital learning environment.


“The key piece to this is our goal to not just put technology in each kid’s hands,” Little said. “Our goal is to try to get students to use critical thinking and problem solving by using technology, not just having it. There is a purpose to the technology.”


Little said the school district also will use consultants from North Carolina State University to advise them about supporting its goals with technology.


“It’s about the instruction that technology allows you to do,” said Little. “What we’re looking to establish is that dynamic learning experience. Our teachers have done a tremendous job of learning new technology and are committed to making their classrooms the best they can be. The sixth grade teachers have said these computers have made all the difference.”


He said the Chromebook roll-out will serve as the pilot program for the effort and could be “phased up” over the next four years so students will all have their own computers by the time the sixth graders enter the ninth grade.


Reach David Broyles at dbroyles@civitasmedia.com or 719-1952.


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