Worcester Schools’ Digital Conversion Efforts Continue; All Freshmen To Receive Laptops Next Month

Worcester Schools’ Digital Conversion Efforts Continue; All Freshmen To Receive Laptops Next Month
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BERLIN – The dates for the county’s ninth-graders to get their new laptops are officially set.

With deployment dates identified as Sept. 2 at Stephen Decatur High School, Sept. 3 at Snow Hill High School and Sept. 10 at Pocomoke High School, the school system is just weeks away from launching the digital conversion that will provide every ninth-grader with a laptop they will keep with them all through high school.

As laptops are being unpacked and labeled, teachers are busy preparing for the change. Stephen Decatur High School teacher Brian Phillips is sharing ideas on how teachers can make the most of the new devices with a series of workshops.

“Everybody is trying to play a hand in supporting the movement,” he said.

He says most teachers are looking forward to students having another tool in the classroom. While it will be a learning process, Phillips says he’s going to do the best he can with what he says is a positive change.

“I think this movement is necessary and valuable in the 21st century,” he said. “We’re tasked with meeting the needs of kids who have grown up with technology. That might not be how we learned but that’s how kids best learn today.”

Phillips, a foreign language teacher, is a bit more prepared for the digital conversion than some because he’s spent the past several years using online resources in the classroom. His students have enjoyed the online games and practice quizzes he’s assigned to help them learn Spanish.

“The competitive nature of the game gets kids excited,” he said. “It’s a great way to support what you’re doing in class. It gives students the immediate feedback that so often they’re missing in written homework.”

Nevertheless, he doesn’t think technology will completely change what happens in the classroom. He’ll still be guiding lessons and students will still be taking notes. Some lessons, though, will be technology based. That, Phillips believes, will better prepare his students for the world beyond high school.

“It not only prepares them for college it prepares them for the workforce where certainly they’ll use some form of technology,” he said.

Phillips said he was also looking forward to the digital conversion because it would allow teachers to use less paper. They’re tired of watching their classroom recycling bins filling up with handouts on a daily basis.

“A lot of people are excited about slowing down the consumption of paper,” he said. “I’m hoping this will diminish some of the waste. That’s something we’d all appreciate.”

All of the county’s ninth-graders and their parents are invited to attend their school’s respective deployment event to receive their laptops. Before being assigned a computer, the students will view videos focusing on responsible use of the devices and digital citizenship. They’ll also be asked to sign a responsible use agreement.

An annual $35 user fee will cover accidental damage of the devices.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.