Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Chromebooks Have Arrived

I was so excited on Monday when I saw the UPS man walking into the school building with large boxes. While my Donor's Choose project had been fully funded at the beginning of August, the shipping was delayed because of a policy regarding shipping to schools during summer break. When they were ready to ship, it seemed the Chromebooks I ordered were no longer available. I want to say thank you to Donor's Choose's customer support for helping me find replacements from a different vender that still allowed me to purchase twelve Chromebooks for my classroom.

After my students left for the day, I opened the boxes and got to work setting them up. As luck would have it, we found an old laptop cart in the basement of our building that wasn't being used. The built in surge protector was broken, but the lock's latch was still secure. With the assistance of a wonderful parent volunteer, I had the cart cleaned and ready to house our new class set of computers. I only took out one computer the first day and I'm glad I did. I immediately noticed that the Chromebook was much smaller in person than it appeared online and even when I'd seen it attached to displays in stores.

To add an extra layer of protection to the old laptop cart, I ran out to Ikea and purchased cardboard magazine holders. Turned sideways, it actually makes a great organization system for the cart. The pre-cut holes in the boxes made cord management easy, and the cardboard gave some cushioning against the metal shelves. When I made the labels for each computer, I decided to be more creative. Along with my name and the computer's number, I gave each computer an individualized quotation about education and/or learning for the front. On the back, I just put the number to make it easier to spot when in the cart. The cart was originally designed for sixteen computers so I was able to put new surge protectors in the first slot of each shelf.

I am looking forward to this coming Monday when my students will receive their new GAFE accounts and complete the Chromebook Scavenger Hunt which I modified from an original idea posted by Rick Lapi from the Wilson School District in Pennsylvania. This will be their first experience with Chromebooks and I know that they are excited to be piloting the program for our building. They are also one of the first groups of middle school students in our district to be using Chromebooks because GAFE is slowly be rolled out for our district and I needed to be patient and wait. Currently all add-ons are disabled by the district and there is no estimated date when they will begin reviewing requests for add-ons.

The long term goal of this year with Chromebooks is that my students will write their own proposal together by the end of the year to convince our administration to begin replacing outdated Macbooks with less expensive Chromebooks. As a huge fan of Google, I hope that my enthusiasm will be contagious within our building staff. I will also be using my Chromebooks for a few PDs during the year so the staff can also experience the difference.

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