Lynchburg weighs buying Chromebooks for math classes

Middle and high school math classrooms could get Chromebooks in place of textbooks, under a young idea being talked over by the Lynchburg City School Board. According to Assistant Superintendent Al Coleman, division math teachers say they don’t require a new textbook.

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Alternatively, he stated at last week’s school board meeting, they want classroom computer sets so their pupils can access math problems and teaching online. The class already is paying for several organizations that are online or have online components — ready, Interactive Achievement and ST Math.

They’ve also developed pacing guides for instructors that have guidelines on what to teach when and links to resources to use for each topic. Coleman suggested if math classrooms had a computer for every student, the pupils could use the same links from the pacing guides that are available to instructors.

Students also could view explanations of several forms, such as educational activity provided by Khan Academy, an online resource center. Superintendent Scott Brabrand said math textbooks are useful for the problems they carry, but nowadays there’s a plethora of free math problems available online.

Coleman suggested the division use about $405,000 in textbook reserve funds to buy classroom sets for middle and high school math classes. He too proposed the division use about $240,500 to purchase a take-home Chromebook for each ninth- degree pupil.

The peeled-down laptops rely on the Google Chrome Web browser and various Google applications rather than running typical software such as Microsoft Office. The take-home Chromebook would be reckoned part of the LCS-One initiative that long has been in the whole kit and caboodle.

The mind behind the initiative is to slowly roll out Chromebooks to students in grades 4-12, beginning with ninth-graders, over a series of years. Students would be able to take those Chromebooks homes and hold them from class to class. Each Chromebook is expected to cost about $370, including laser-engraving the devices to establish they are school division property. Presently, around $1,050,000 am in the textbook reserve.

School Board members had many questions for Coleman and Brabrand following the demonstration.

Chairwoman Regina Dolan-Sewell asked whether the school division would need to purchase online math textbooks, as well. The administrators said, no, they would not plan to buy online textbooks. Board member Tom Webb asked how homework would be covered for students who did not own computers or internet at home.

Coleman said teachers potentially could send home printouts of the online math problems. He also said old math textbooks could be available for usage as required.

At the end of the discussion, Dolan-Sewell said she thought school board members were energized around the concept, even though they received a great deal of inquiries about the logistics.

Board member Michael Nilles said he thought the administrators hadn’t done enough to fully explicate the estimate. He stated he was looking for more information before he’d be converted.

“I’d wish to find out a little more how this fits into a longer range plan,” Nilles said.“I probably wouldn’t vote for it with what I know.”

Administrators also mentioned they are going on an idea about using Chromebooks in some foreign language classrooms, and that they planned to bring that idea to the school board soon, as well. Panel members are required to vote on appropriating money at a meeting next week.

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