At the end of the day at Vistas High School in Klein, teacher Kim Sharp monitors the hallway. That means helping some students with their laptops.
“They all have lockers that are designed to hold their tablets. At the end of the day, they are plugging their laptops in so tomorrow when they come back, they are charged and ready to.”
Vistas is a small high school for students who have struggled. Ever since it opened six and a half years ago, all the students can use a laptop for a flat $75 fee.
Sharp says the technology keeps the students interested.
“Discipline issues drop, the kids are engaged, they are active in learning.”
She warns putting a laptop in every kid’s hands won’t fix everything.
“You have to have good teaching behind it. The education has to be there. The good teachers have to be there. It doesn’t replace anything. It doesn’t fix any problems you might be having. It just enhances all the good stuff that’s already happening.”
That’s why teacher training has been so important in Klein. The school district has steadily rolled out a one-to one policy, meaning every high school student has a laptop they can use.
Anne McMullan is the executive director for educational technology in Klein ISD.
“The approach that we take with that, the year before the school goes one to one with students, the teachers get their tablet PCs and they got that on-site professional development support person. And they spend a year getting ready for when every student is going to have that technology.”
Klein High School will be the last one next year. So teachers are getting ready now.
Teachers training on laptops
“So what we ask them to do that year before their students receive it is almost double lesson planning. How am I teaching this year, but how would I teach this differently next year.”
In fact, there’s tech training for Klein teachers in high school all the way to prekindergarten, like Mary Jane Jones. She doesn’t know a lot about technology. But she’s eager to learn.
“My husband says I’m BC — Before Computers — and so I learn right along with the kids. I think I become as excited as the kids, it gives me a sense of accomplishment too — not to be afraid.”
Klein ISD has also invested $100 million dollars in hardware and technology infrastructure.
In HISD, it’s expected to cost $10 million dollars to start — for students in 18 high schools to have their own laptops next year.