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Chaparral Elementary Students Carry Laptops to School This Fall
Ladera Ranch, CA-- On September 6, Southern California parents in this wired community sent their children back to school at Chaparral Elementary pulling backpacks loaded with laptop computers. Principal Kevin Rafferty recommended that parents purchase iBook computers for 3rd through 5th graders and more than 80 out 175 parents said yes.
A Model Program
"We're trying to promote a love of learning and motivation," says Benham. "Students write more and they write better with their own laptops. They are more enthusiastic about school."
Standards for All
"The students have the same learning objectives as all 3-5 grade students in the district," says Rafferty. "The district also has technology objectives and it's the same for everybody. At Chaparral, we're simply using laptops as a natural tool integrated into the curriculum."
The teachers were hand-picked for Chaparral, based on their comfort with technology and willingness to learn. They attended a full-day training session to cover the essentials of classroom management and technology use. The PE schedule allows half of the teachers to attend a half-hour training each day so they can learn and share new strategies for using computers and laptops.
Preparing for Laptop Learning
The district provides each school with network equipment and servers as a standard part of the curriculum. Benham estimates that the cost to achieve a 2 to 1 student to computer ratio with parents purchasing laptops will cost the district an additional $10,000-$15,000 to provide the wireless network, training, software, and additional servers.
"When we reviewed programs in other communities, we learned that they always grow," says Benham. "At first, there are a lot of skeptics. The children take to laptops like ducks to water, they're fine. If you support staff with training and provide time for parents to get involved the program will grow."
Chaparral expects to see significant gains in reading test scores on the Stanford 9 and CORE level testing and in student communication skills assessed by teachers and other qualitative measures. By proving the learning advantage of students with 24/7 access to information, Benham expects to attract funds to spread the model to other schools in the district.