Following the devastating fire that forced the temporary move of Willow Park School to Viscount Bennett last year, the school developed a new slogan called “onward!” and invited the entire school and community to rise up against adversity.
Willow Park parent Jason Walters heard the call, and secured a grant through his workplace at Hewlett Packard to buy 24 new Google Chromebooks as part of a pilot for his daughter’s Grade 7 class. Chromebooks are inexpensive laptops that are designed to be used primarily using applications and data available online. The pilot was so successful that the school’s parent association and teacher technology team applied to the Alberta Community Improvement Initiative to secure additional resources.
On Oct. 24, MLA Jonathan Dennis announced that Willow Park School would be awarded the full amount they requested - $29,469. The grant was matched by the school’s parent society, bringing the total amount to $59,938. Half of the money will be used to boost wireless access at the school, while the other half will be used to purchase an additional 120 Chromebooks.
“Sometimes opportunity really does come from adversity,” says Dr. Leslie Robertson, principal of Willow Park.
Willow Park selected Chromebooks in part because of their affordability, but also because of the success the Grade 7 class found using the CBE Google Apps platform.
“My favorite activity supported by the Chromebooks is the silent film unit we do with students each spring,” said Grade 7 teacher Jade Wesley. In this unit, students tell stories of historical immigration. They recorded their notes in a common drive so that all members of each team could access and edit the notes at once. They also used a survey tool to self- and peer-assess their films, allowing for immediate feedback based on the project rubric.”
“It’s amazing to see what students are capable of doing with simple access to wireless,” said Wesley.
Grade 7 students at Willow Park School show off their new Chromebooks