Steamboat 2nd-graders becoming power Google users | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat 2nd-graders becoming power Google users

Rise of the digital natives

Strawberry Park Elementary School second-grade students Elisa Cosby and George Boisjoli join a group of classmates tackling a lesson on their Google Chromebooks. Thanks to a $6,600 grant, every second-grader in the school will now have a laptop assigned to them.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The majority of second-graders in Allyson Kopatz's class at Strawberry Park Elementary School in Steamboat Springs have yet to celebrate their eighth birthdays, yet their grasp on using Google apps and docs is becoming more and more sophisticated.

Koptaz's students and those of other second-grade teachers at Strawberry Park retrieve their assignments and turn them in online, using Google’s Chromebook laptops. They research their writing assignments online and are learning touch typing at a tender age so that they can take their standardized tests on their computers.

"They know how to run these things better than I do," Kopatz said. "They show me how to insert videos and pictures" in their documents.

Currently, there aren’t enough Chromebooks to go around, but that’s about to change. Soon, every second-grader at Strawberry Park, including those in the classrooms of Kopatz's colleagues Shannon Keesee, Katie Knezevich and Lesa Marie Scoppa, will be assigned their own Chromebook thanks to a $6,600 grant from the Challenge Fund committee, which is part of the Parents Information Committee.

The money will be used to purchase an additional 36 Chromebooks at Strawberry Park, and the Steamboat Springs Board of Education was expected to approve the grant Monday night.

Challenge Fund grants were launched in 2011 as a way to provide additional funding for Steamboat Springs School District elementary schools. The funds are generated through community donations and fundraising events run by a handful of parents.

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This year, the grants will total a little more than $24,816, spread among 16 initiatives, ranging from Mini Maker stations and math centers at Soda Creek Elementary School to the Strawberry Park fifth grade’s class trip to Denver.

The addition of more Chromebooks in Strawberry Park second-grade classrooms means students will no longer have to use their laptops in rotation. Kopatz expects that with a laptop for every student, the teachers will see much more collaboration among their second-graders.

"We're a Google (school) district," she said. "The Chromebooks are going to be engaging our second-graders, so they can (enjoy) more hands-on experiential learning, with more options for creativity and critical thinking."

The students do browse the internet on their Chromebooks, but it's a closed environment.

"They're secure," Kopatz said. The students, "have to sign in to their Google accounts. They can e-mail each other, but it has to be within the district. I can e-mail them, and they can e-mail me, but they couldn't even be able to e-mail their parents (unless they work in the school district). It's safe."

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.

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