Students, staff eager for one-to-one initiative

Woodland Regional High School senior Krista DeTulio uses a Chromebook at the school in Beacon Falls. Region 16 will begin to implement a one-to-one device initiative by giving all freshmen and sophomores their own Chromebooks in February. -KATIE MINUTILLO

REGION 16 — Two students sit across from each other in history class, collaborating on a Google Document and conducting research in preparation for an upcoming debate. Two floors up, students use the interactive website Khan Academy to solve challenging math problems.

Scenes such as these will become much more common in Region 16 thanks to the region’s one-to-one initiative.

The new initiative will provide Woodland Regional High School and Long River Middle School students with their own Chromebook to use in class.

As technology continues to play a vital role in classroom learning within the region, the initiative hopes to expose students and teachers to the numerous advantages technology offers in education.

Though the curriculum in place will remain, the initiative provides teachers with many more opportunities within the classroom, Region 16 Curriculum Director Barbara Peck said. She expects students to spend more time collaborating with peers, solving problems, and thinking critically.

“Teachers will foster student inquiry as the foundation for learning concepts and skills and serve as a mentor and guide,” Peck said.

The Region 16 Board of Education, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, has approved a three-year plan to phase in the initiative.

The first step in the plan will come Feb. 24 when all freshmen and sophomores at Woodland will receive their Chromebooks. Over the following two school years, incoming freshmen will receive a Chromebook and middle school students will have access to new and district-owned devices, as well, in school. In subsequent years, all incoming freshmen will get a Chromebook.

High school students will keep their Chromebooks, even after the students graduate, while the Chromebooks at the middle school will stay at the school.

Teachers at Woodland are preparing to integrate the Chromebooks within their classrooms as Feb. 24 draws closer.

Woodland humanities teacher Christopher Tomlin is excited to use the technology to create a greater sense of interconnectivity in his classes, and he believes the initiative opens up the opportunity for differentiated instruction.

“It’s opening up a lot more paths for me as a teacher to be able to connect with the students and make sure they are connecting with the material,” Tomlin said.

The initiative also allows Tomlin to accomplish his goal of going paperless for as many assignments as possible, he added.

Students have had access to Chromebooks in many of their classrooms, but the new personalized initiative will facilitate a change in the learning environment.

Woodland Principal Kurt Ogren said the initiative addresses the need for students to possess 21st century skills and for teachers to expand the scope of their lessons.

“It gives the teachers an opportunity to be creative and use many more resources,” Ogren said.

Freshman Jessica Vardon is looking forward to the program’s implementation since many of her classes already use online platforms such as Google Drive. She also believes that most teachers will start promoting the integration of technology in their teaching even if they have not already.

Vardon added that many students may not have access to a computer at home, and this initiative will expose them to technology with the potential to promote success in their academics.

“Some students’ computers at home don’t always work and now they’ll always have one,” Vardon said. “It will be a lot easier for my classes.”

School officials are hoping this initiative will provide students with the same opportunities students in other districts already have.

“This will provide accessibility for all our ninth- and 10th-grade students to learn at high levels, develop 21st century skills, and be college and career ready,” Peck said.