The Prep recognizes the value of incorporating 21st century teaching and learning strategies as well as the need to create confident, capable, self-directed, lifelong learners who can successfully navigate an information driven global society.
It was with this in mind in the fall of 2012 that we began discussing how to best create an environment in which all students have reliable, consistent access to information. Schools all over the country were having these same discussions, some moving faster than others, and some moving immediately to the hot device of the time without much thought to how it would impact teaching and learning.
It is part of our Jesuit culture to be reflective and thoughtful in our actions, and so we took the time we felt was needed to research, discuss, plan, test and discuss some more. It was through this thoughtful process that we came to settle on the Chromebook as the device that is most suitable for our environment. We are excited to put our planning into action, and to provide our students with access to a multitude of digital tools that can support their learning both inside and outside of the classroom by fostering creativity, critical thinking and collaboration while at the same time improving communication and organization.
Important Chromebook Information for INCOMING FRESHMEN (Class of 2021):
Your son will be receiving a Chromebook to assist in his learning here at St. Joe's Prep. We regard this as an important tool for communication, research, organization and learning support, and we are please to be able to provide it as part of your son's experience.
Chromebooks will be distributed during Freshman Orientation on August 30. At that time students will receive the Chromebook as well as an introduction to the policies and procedures regarding the use of it as a tool for learning. There will also be some brief introductions to the device itself and to Google Apps for Education.
In order for your son to receive his Chromebook on that day we must have a signed copy of the Student/Parent Chromebook Agreement. Please review the agreement with your son so that he understands his responsibilities as a user of the device. The agreement must be signed by both student and parent/guardian and returned before August 30.
Click here for the agreement form
The signed agreement can be returned in any of the following ways:
St. Joseph’s Preparatory School Fax to 215-765-1710 ATTN: Colleen McManus
Attn: Colleen McManus Scan and email to firstname.lastname@example.org
1733 W. Girard Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Any questions or concerns please contact Mrs. Colleen McManus - email@example.com or 267-515-5920.
Helpful Links and Information:
Any questions or concerns please contact Mrs. Colleen McManus - firstname.lastname@example.org 267-515-5920.
August 2014 Letter from the Principal Introducing the Initiative:
Dear Parents and/or Guardians:
As you may know, we have spent the past two years exploring how to best implement a 1:1 environment here at The Prep. This exploration began in 2012-13 with a Research Year and discussions about how this type of environment would impact our community. The Research Year led to the creation of a Pilot Year in 2013-14 that allowed us to put our ideas into action. The pilot tested two different environments: Semester 1, in which all pilot students used the same device (Chromebooks), and Semester 2, in which students were allowed to use any device (BYOD). The Pilot Year, overall, was a success. Furthermore, after studying our findings from the Pilot Year, we discovered the environment tested in Semester 1 proved to better meet faculty needs. As a result, we, along with the 1:1 Initiative Committee, are happy and excited to announce we have chosen to use the Chromebook as our 1:1 universal device for the Implementation Year (2015-16) and furthermore, we are now moving forward with our Transition Year (2014-15), in which students will continue to bring their own devices as directed by their teachers.
The Chromebook: One device allows for a more streamlined experience for our students, parents and teachers. The ease of use, manageability, reliability and cost effectiveness of the Chromebook make it the best choice. It is important to remember that easy access to information, more effective communication and opportunities for collaboration and increased student engagement are the driving forces of this initiative; the device should not be the focus. There are many models of the Chromebook made by many different hardware companies, such as Samsung, HP and Acer to name a few. During this transition year we will take the time to research the various options and choose the one that best suits our needs.
Mindful Usage: Now that the device has been decided upon, we must continue discussions about how to best utilize the available tools so that our students leave the Prep having experienced technology as a learning aid and not simply another form of entertainment. A Mindfulness and Technology Committee will be created to address ways we can direct our students to use technology to enhance their academic experience and provide opportunities to reflect on how the regular use of technology both positively and negatively impacts their well-being.
Goals and Outcomes: Below are just a few of the goals and anticipated outcomes that continue to drive our 1:1 Initiative.
Students: At the heart of our 1:1 Initiative is our students. The regular use of available digital tools by our students will:
- foster creativity, critical thinking and collaboration by constructing an open environment in which students are encouraged to bring and use devices;
- provide daily access to valuable applications and resources (e.g. Hapara, Google Drive, Edmodo, eBooks, eTextbooks) that will support students in their learning and extend their classroom experience outside of school;
- improve student organization and time management skills, and
- improve communication with teachers.
Parents: The use of digital tools by our Prep parents will enable parents to be more directly involved in their sons’ academic performance, as the 1:1 Initiative will:
- improve the parent’s awareness of the student’s assignments;
- provide a more efficient way to review the student’s work and identify shortcomings and areas for growth; and
- improve communication between parents and teachers.
Teachers: The most vital part of making our 1:1 Initiative successful is our teachers, who, in addition to our students and parents, will benefit from its implementation. Regular use of digital tools by our teachers will:
- create a more student-centered classroom in which students take responsibility for their own learning, thereby increasing student engagement and participation;
- enable the teacher to more easily accommodate various learning styles among students;
- reduce the amount of printed materials distributed to and collected from students, consequently reducing the amount of paper for teachers to manage, file and store, and
- improve communication between teachers, students and parents.
So what do I do now???
At this time, there is nothing that you need to do. Once the decision is made regarding the specific Chromebook we will be using and its cost, we will communicate that information to you. To better manage the process, the Technology Department will handle purchasing and distribution of the Chromebooks. Typically, the models we are considering cost in the range of $270 to $325. This cost will be the responsibility of each family. In the upcoming year, we will continue to share information with you regarding the steps you will take to ready your son for our Implementation Year. In the meantime, below are some of the expectations that will be a part of the 2014-15 school year. If you have any questions or concerns at this time or in the coming months, please feel free to contact our Instructional Technology Specialist, Colleen McManus. (email@example.com (267)515-5920)
During the 2014-2015 Transition Year:
Prep students will: Students who have a device at home will be encouraged to bring it to school, but nothing new needs to be purchased at this time.
Until the 1:1 program is up and running and each student has his own Chromebook, we will continue with the same practice we have followed in recent years; Prep students will be allowed to bring in their own devices to be used to assist them in their studies. The management and maintenance of these computers will be the responsibility of the student, and classroom use will be dictated by each individual teacher. Please see the updated Acceptable Use Policy located in the Student Handbook for rules and regulations surrounding use of technology at The Prep.
Prep faculty will: Teachers will explore ways in which 1:1 access to technology and information can enhance the learning experience of our students by:
- having a regular, dependable digital presence on Edmodo through which teachers will communicate assignments, expectations, etc., with students (faculty currently using Moodle will have 2014-15 to transition);
- encouraging student use of digital tools when appropriate, and allow students to use devices as learning tools in the classroom;
- attending a Faculty In-Service Day dedicated to technology and teaching information literacy;
- attending the following workshops at the Prep:
- Moodle to Edmodo conversion
- Hapara/Teacher Dashboard
- Google Drive, and
- continuing to implement Google tools into their curriculum. Over the last five years students have learned to rely on the stability and consistency of the Google tools. While there are certainly other instruments available that will be appropriate in some situations and will continue to be used to achieve certain curriculum goals, we will be expecting universal use of Google tools when sharing and collaborating.
In closing, we are thrilled to begin this Transition Year that will continue to engage and challenge all of us to grow. We are grateful for your willingness to make this work, and we will do what it takes to help our students achieve their specific levels of comfort. We realize that change is not always easy and will therefore dedicate ourselves to helping our students and faculty find ways to modernize, enhance and balance classroom traditions with the needs of our 21st Century students.
Again, we thank you as we conclude with a reflection from Go Forth and Teach: The Characteristics of Jesuit Education:
The educational community in a Jesuit school studies the needs of present-day society and then reflects on school policies, structures, methods, current pedagogical methods and all other elements of the school environment, to find those means that will best accomplish the purposes of the school and implement its educational philosophy. On the basis of these reflections changes are made in school structure, methods, curriculum, etc., when these are seen to be necessary or helpful. An educator in the Jesuit tradition is encouraged to exercise great freedom and imagination in the choice of teaching techniques, pedagogical methods, etc. School policies and practices encourage reflection and evaluation; they allow for change when change is necessary.
Jason Zazyczny ’90, Principal
Colleen McManus, Instructional Technology Specialist 1:1 Internal Coordinator
Sonia Nelson, Librarian 1:1 Internal Coordinator