Chris Lake’s freshman government students at Perrysburg High School haven’t turned in a single paper all school year.
He’s gone digital. With students equipped with MacBook Air laptops from the district, all assignments, tests, essays are all completed and turned in electronically to Mr. Lake.
“It has totally changed the way I do my job,” he said.
Perrysburg Schools distributed laptops to fifth, eighth, and ninth graders at the school year’s start, costing the district $563,000 in funds from a 2012 levy.
One of Mr. Lake’s classroom projects was a remaking of the Declaration of Independence. Instead of sending King George III a paper declaration, his students prepared a video detailing the grievances that prompted the British colonies to rebel.
With all assignments turned in online, students can no longer use “My printer is out of ink” as an excuse for not completing work on time, Mr. Lake said.
“In four to five years, this will be so common we will wonder how we taught before,” Mr. Lake said, adding that he particularly enjoys not making photocopies any more.
Ninth graders received MacBook Air laptops, while the fifth and eighth graders have Samsung Chromebooks. Joe Sarnes, the Perrysburg Schools’ technology integration specialist, said one issue the district has encountered is the Chromebooks’ durability.
“With the high school Airs, we haven’t had an issue at all,” Mr. Sarnes said. “With the Chromebooks, it has been more difficult at the junior high. They are not as rugged as I hoped.”
School officials are waiting for results from a Bowling Green State University survey of district parents, teachers, and students before deciding how to proceed with computers. Schools Superintendent Tom Hosler said the plan has been to furnish incoming fifth, eighth, and ninth graders with laptops while previous classes keep theirs, but they don’t know which machines to use.
Distributing MacBook Airs to all grades will cost the district more money, Mr. Hosler said. The district also will study how the pilot Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers testing performs in the coming months on Ohio’s secure browsers.
During school hours, students’ laptops can’t access social media sites, YouTube, or other Internet distractions. After hours, those restrictions are eased, but the computers are still blocked from pornographic or violent Web sites.
Not all Perrysburg teachers have used the laptops as much as Mr. Lake has. He said his favorite Internet feature, Google Documents, allows groups to work together on projects simultaneously, while he supervises and leave notes for the students.
He said the Internet is not really a distraction for his classes.
“They get engaged in projects,” Mr. Lake said. “I’ll see other pages open and ask them to get back on task. But I don’t have to police them every minute.”