Teachers reflect on implementation of MacBook Pros two weeks in

Students+work+on+their+laptops+in+Ms.+Cara+Vaughn%27s+biology+class.

Ed Dudrick

Students work on their laptops in Ms. Cara Vaughn's biology class.

Some Bearden teachers have been rather eager to incorporate the new MacBook Pros into the classroom, immediately utilizing them to the extent that they can.

“I don’t think they’re going to learn better, necessarily, but it does give us a way to

apply the information that we’re teaching in a different way that is more with the trends for students,” math teacher Mrs. Susanne Huber said.

Added Major Belinda Twohig: “Some students will take the benefit and some won’t, just like in society as a whole. Some are going to utilize it for the good, [but] some are going try to scam the system, to circumvent and go to their social networks.

“But hopefully we’ll be able to monitor and eliminate that.”

Major Twohig’s NJROTC class has been doing project-based learning, in which they use their computers in small groups to research and present a short presentation on a topic assigned to them. For each chapter in their book, they’ll do a research project, often mimicking the format of military briefs.

“They’ll be given a scenario, they’ll have to give courses of actions in a brief that they might be giving to a higher headquarters,” Major Twohig said. “[The one they are doing now] is a brief to the President of the United States and their National Security Agency and it’s basically a situation on nuclear weapons.”

Mrs. Boyd has also utilized the computers in the classroom significantly: her students have been creating digital portfolios. By taking pictures of their work, the students can document their work for safety reasons and to monitor progress.

Mrs. Boyd also plans on teaching digital art and design toward the end of the semester in November.

“We’re going to start talking about…how the computer is used in today’s society to make art and change studio practices, so we will be exploring digital artwork,” Mrs. Boyd said. “Our classroom is very fortunate to have two tablet desktop computers that we can draw on and learn – not that it’s going to replace painting or any of those [older] techniques; it’s just a new way of learning about these things.”

But for now, most of Mrs. Boyd’s MacBook-related work is central to SSR and daily forum discussions on Knox County’s official online educational tool, Canvas.

“What I’ve found is that students who aren’t willing to speak up in class have really well-written answers that are very thought-provoking, and it opens up some great discussions that wouldn’t normally happen in the classroom,” Mrs. Boyd said.

Mrs. Huber, a pre-calculus teacher, has also found various usages for the computers. Like Boyd, Huber tracks progress of her students, except through frequent quizzes.

“So far, we’ve used them for graphing and the [Microsoft] Excel program and just homework quizzes that are quick and painless during class,” Mrs. Huber said.

“While it’s best to learn by writing things down, I think applying the math in my case is interesting as we’re using the technology,” she continued. “I’m excited for the challenge, and I know that the students will get a lot out of it.

“It’s interesting; it’s going to take some time to get used to, but overall, it’s a good change.”