|Kaylee Rios picks up her Chromebook in the commons|
Initiative provides a computer to every MOHS student
Textbooks and notebooks now have company in the backpacks of Mount Olive High School students: Chromebooks. Every student received a new Hewlett Packard Chromebook to use at home and in class during the school year.
Providing MOHS students with their own computers accomplishes several important goals. The initiative provides reliable devices to students who do not have computers or tablets of their own at home, or have inadequate, aging technology.
It also encourages more project-based learning and more individualized instruction. Since all students are now empowered to access the internet and internet-based applications outside of school, it’s easier for them to research, communicate with their teachers, and collaborate with each other. Whenever and wherever they want, students can use instructional applications such as Google Classroom – an app that allows students to see classroom assignments and announcements, submit work, and exchange notes with their teachers and one another. They can even receive and respond to real-time personal feedback since teachers can use their own Chromebooks to check student work as its being done.
“This levels the playing field and ensures that all our high school students have the same access to resources,” said Dr. Robert Zywicki, superintendent of schools. “As a district we’re also focusing on tailoring instruction to meets the unique needs of each student and technology is essential to help teachers deliver those personalized learning experiences.”
The use of computers and other instructional technology to enhance learning has long been a hallmark of the district. However, for the past year under Dr. Zywicki’s guidance, the district has made an intensive effort in all its schools to use technology even more. An essential step to do that was to boost teacher and student mastery of Google Classroom and Google’s suite of web-based productivity apps including Google Docs (word processing), Slides (presentations), and Sheets (spreadsheets). Approximately 250 faculty members trained for and received Google educator certification – an indicator of expertise in leveraging digital resources (e.g., apps, multimedia, websites) to make instruction engaging, dynamic, and individualized.
In years prior to the Chromebook distribution, most high school classrooms were equipped with computers for student use in class.
|At the September 9 meeting of the Mount Olive Board of Education, students discuss the key points they took away from their NJIT experience|
Exploring STEAM at NJIT
Students from Mount Olive High School and Mount Olive Middle School learned advanced science and technology skills in a two-week summer program at New Jersey Institute of Technology.
In the Real World Connections program, the 30 students attended daily sessions on the NJIT Newark campus and each explored one of five different courses: Android app development, cybercrime solutions, website creation and maintenance, video game development, and virtual reality. The courses were designed around hands-on projects that allowed students to work collaboratively and learn by doing.
“This was a great opportunity for students to explore careers that combine science, technology, engineering, art, and math,” said Dr. Gretel Perez, Mount Olive’s director of secondary education. “They tackled the types of issues that you would see in the real world if you were working in a science or tech company. That helped them connect school and learning to everyday life.”
The final student projects, many of which addressed important social issues, were demonstrated during a presentation day on the NJIT campus and at the September 9 meeting of the Mount Olive Board of Education.
Plans are being made to include on the district’s website one of the projects – an app that focuses on increasing awareness of domestic violence and mental health.
About 50% of the Mount Olive students that participated are female – an important statistic to note.
“Women are underrepresented in most science and technology fields,” said Dr. Perez. “It was exciting to see so many young ladies interested in this program and taking on leadership roles in their courses.”
Each year, Dr. Perez organizes the annual “Women in STEAM” conference for district middle and high school students. The conference is designed to encourage female students to explore STEAM courses and career paths.
|Mount Olive students who participated in the Real World Connections program pose at NJIT|
Sandshore Elementary School
498 Sandshore Rd
Budd Lake, NJ 07828
Mountain View Elementary School
118 Cloverhill Drive
Flanders, NJ 07836
Chester M. Stephens Elementary School
99 Sunset Drive
Budd Lake, NJ 07828
Mt. Olive Middle School
160 Wolfe Road
Budd Lake, NJ 07828