Walking into the Penns Valley Area Middle School might feel more like walking into a university lecture, every student clicking away on their own laptop.
Students in grades 7 and 8 will have personal laptops to use this year as part of the district’s expanding one-to-one computing initiative.
The district started the program last year by loaning all high school students laptops for both school and home use.
Officials have been happy with the results and looked to expand the program this year, said Assistant Superintendent Sherri Connell.
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Connell said the program connects students with each other and with their teachers, allowing them to learn like never before.
“Students can do collaborative work with peers and teachers even at night,” she said. “It’s greatly increased interaction with teachers.”
The program could also change mentality of a sick day.
“When kids are absent, they are Skyped into English class,” Connell said. “We’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg.”
Connell said the initiative also allows teachers to better differentiate lessons for students at different learning level, and gives instructors more resources at their fingertips.
“The kids, whatever they are doing, they choose more of what they want to do,” she said. “What do you want to use to show that you know this? The only thing they are limited by is their own creativity.”
District officials started pushing for increased technology in classrooms three years ago. Classrooms were outfitted with interactive whiteboards and other equipment. The one-on-one was the next step.
And Connell said district officials are exploring the possibility of expanding the program further, and including students in grades 5 and 6.
“It’s very exciting,” she said.
Changes are also in store for students entering or returning to Penns Valley Area High School.
This summer, the school board voted to make improvements to the school’s gym space, including adding square footage to the building for a new multi-purpose room.
Connell said the physical education classes will be shuffled around during the construction, but that the project is something the students are excited about.
“The facilities are going to be great when they are done,” she said.