Our Plan in Action: New 1:1 Laptop Program Outfits All Upper School Students with Devices
On the first day of Week of Code, fifth graders convened in Makery Down to continue their ongoing work on their Egyptian Museum project. It's not a new project for humanities students in their first Upper School year, but this time, there was one key difference: Each student had her own computer on which she could work.
At that point, fifth graders hadn't started compiling their complex displays that illustrate a central question about Egyptian life, but in preparation for that step, they were collaborating on those questions using Google Docs and Chromebooks. Students check out their individual devices from their advisories each morning, taking them from class to class throughout the day and using them as the instructor sees fit, then turn them back in at the end of the day.
This new 1:1 laptop program was piloted with this group of students when they were in the fourth grade last year, as well as with the Class of 2018 in the seventh grade, and it has now expanded to all Upper School students as of this school year. The expansion also works hand-in-hand with a robust digital-citizenship curriculum, which is a priority for the school as outlined in Goal #1 of the Strategic Plan.
The first 1:1 pilot program took place in May 2016, which gave laptops to seventh graders that year for three weeks. That pilot was a success, from optimizing teaching and learning time in the classroom to delving into important lessons in device and file management, so it led to the rollout of two full-year pilots, which took place last year. Current Burke's eighth graders received MacBook laptops, while current fifth graders received Chromebooks.
That's the reason why those students are staying with Chromebooks, to ensure some continuity one division to another. But for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, the expansion of the program to all Upper School grades this year means MacBooks.
No matter their grade, all students are tasked with the responsibility of keeping their devices safe and undamaged. The devices are only to be used in class with teacher permission, and Burke's continues to collect data from both students and teachers to see whether this program will continue indefinitely.
"We've used evaluations of the pilot along with survey data from BrightBytes to scale the one-to-one pilot purposefully and strategically," says Mike Matthews, Burke's Director of Curriculum & Program Innovation. "Also, by pairing the laptop deployment with a series of professional development workshops for our teachers, we're empowering teachers to think about how they can leverage technology as a powerful tool for student learning."
Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.