The Laptop Project (with the help of Jerry Salit) donated six Chromebooks to my seventh grade inclusion (general education students mixed with special education students) classroom at the end of 2015. Having the Chromebooks in my classroom has truly made a difference and I have seen such growth in my students since we got them, and I wanted to thank everyone involved for their support! The benefits these Chromebooks bring my students are immeasurable. Because of them, my students are able to stay organized and use accessibility features to increase their confidence in their work.
In my classes, we use a program called Google Classroom. All of their writing assignments are through this program, and they can be accessed from any computer when they log into their account. This prevents them from needing to waste time looking for lost papers, or going back to their locker to find a forgotten folder or notebook. With these computers, they are able to access these assignments from class and get a head start on their homework, and complete in-class assignments.
In addition to this, my students really benefit from being able to type their assignments as opposed to hand-writing them. Due to various reasons including fine-motor disabilities or just plain rushing, many of my students are unable to even read their own handwriting after writing something! Having the option to type is a huge help.
They also take full advantage of accessibility features such as spellcheck and text-to-speech. When writing, my students are often hesitant to use new or interesting vocabulary because they are not confident in their spelling abilities, and don’t want to be embarrassed by a spelling mistake. With spellcheck, this roadblock is eliminated! They more readily use advanced vocabulary which greatly improves their writing.
Finally, the text-to-speech feature allows them to read and comprehend different online texts, even outside of the audiobooks. Text-to-speech is a feature that allows the computer to read text out loud to the user. This feature is available through Google, and has especially helped my students during our non-fiction reading unit. They can have the computer read articles out loud to them that they have found online, which helps them comprehend the material. I believe my students think the text-to-speech feature is the most exciting part of the Chromebooks. They love having the computer read text out loud to them, and even sometimes type things just to have the computer read it. It really gets them excited about the technology and makes them more comfortable reading higher-level texts.
The students that have warmed the most to the Chromebooks are the ones with handwriting difficulties. They do almost everything on the Chromebooks, and basically nothing handwritten anymore. This allows them to put their full effort into their work, and focus much more on the quality of their writing! They love having the option to type their work. The Chromebooks have really increased their confidence and level of engagement.
Again, thank you so much for your kindness and generosity when donating to my classroom. My students and I are so appreciative of your support!