Laptops distributed to all TUHS students to start spring semester

Hundreds of Taft Union High School students are starting the new year by using new laptops to present Google Slide slideshows, take notes and sign up for field trips. School officials distributed about 1,000 laptops to students, teachers and aides in January so teachers can put them to use to prepare students for 21st century jobs.

Junior Jose Ramirez said students may now type notes faster in class than they can write notes by hand. They also can carry the much-lighter laptops to class rather than heavy textbooks. Many of the school textbooks are available on the laptops.

A handful of teachers and their classes have piloted the laptops since the school year began in August.

English teacher Jacquie White is using Google Classroom for assignments. Students may type essays there and she can immediately provide suggestions as they work so they can make revisions before turning in their final paper. “This is nice because they can get excellent feedback and learn the complex process of writing. I think it will be great for keeping track of data in the future.

“We are creating slides for vocabulary words instead of doing worksheets.

I don't have to copy handouts or give them out again when they are lost because they are always in Google Classroom. Students have been able to ask questions privately or in a class comment any time. I can respond when I log in. I post announcements like what to bring to class so students remember and are prepared.”

Ted Pendergrass piloted the laptops and uses them extensively in his Oil-Technology classes. Students use laptops to apply to be in the class, to sign up for field trips first come, first served, and for Google Slide presentations. Portable and lightweight laptops have replaced the 36 computer stations that were in the classroom, which makes it much easier to move tables together and work in collaborative groups, he explained. The immediate computer feedback for students from teachers has been really important, he said. This week students viewed “Ted Talks” on their laptops as role models for public speaking before making their own presentations in class. Pendergrass also has a Smartboard and a Smart Kapp interactive white board, which allows students to view on their laptops what is on the boards at the front of the class. Also, “students can type from their laptops onto the Smartboard,” he said.

Some students and teachers aren’t adjusting to the laptops quite as fast. Senior Alejandro Bojorquez said, “It’s hard adjusting to it. I’m used to writing. I feel like they are forcing them on us.” Senior Angela Alvarez added, “They need more plug-ins in the classrooms. And I have no Wi-Fi at home. I like Google classroom for college PowerPoints. Overall, I’m glad (for them).” Senior Seth Bullard added,” I think they prepare us for college. I like doing PowerPoints. It makes you more organized.” Others, like senior Adam Jacobs, bring their own, more advanced laptops to class now.

Taft High is beginning to integrating the laptops into the classroom and curriculum to ensure that graduates will be technologically proficient and prepared for their college and careers experiences, explained Stacey Stansberry, director of education technology and curricular innovation.