Sheldon Middle School Chromebooks

Eighth-grader Ruth Bautista watches as Gina Woelber helps her with a math problem on her Chromebook. Woelber’s students began doing all of their math work digitally this academic year using the Google Classroom app.

SHELDON—Gina Woelber has yet to hear a student in her eighth-grade math class tell her they’ve lost their homework assignment.

That’s because all of her students began taking notes and completing homework on their Chromebook computers since the start of the academic year at Sheldon Middle School.

“I’ve been wanting to have kids be able to annotate on the computers so that basically I have kind of a one-stop shop,” Woelber said.

“They have everything on the computer instead of a work sheet and then a piece of paper for notes.”

Students in the Sheldon School District have been using touch-screen Chromebooks since January, when the district became one-to-one. Since the computers are touch-screen, students can write out math problems and show their work directly on the screen using a soft-tip stylus — or just a regular No. 2 pencil.

Woelber recalled a conversation she had during the first week of classes in which another teacher asked her if students could use pencils on the screens.

“I’m like, ‘Yep, that’s what Mr. Trampel, the tech person in our district, said. That’s totally fine. That’s what they’re built for,’” Woelber said in reference to Kasey Trampel.

Her students use the Google Classroom app to submit their homework assignments digitally. She then can open each student’s document to review their work. She has them do their assignments in black ink so she can then use other colors to make corrections.

She had heard the idea of using Google Classroom for math class by listening to the Google Teacher Tribe podcast where educators discuss ways to incorporate technology into the classroom.

While her students take notes on their Chromebooks, Woelber writes on a touch-screen Smart Board during lessons to demonstrate new concepts to the class.

Her students still sometimes take tests using paper and pencil depending on what specific math concepts they are learning.

She said students initially were hesitant about the idea of using computers for math class and the main problem early on was a change in mindset.

Woelber told them they would try the paperless method of note taking and doing homework for the first quarter of the academic year before she decided whether or not to make the switch permanent.

However, the students quickly embraced the new way of learning math and have even helped Woelber when technical difficulties arose. For example, her students discovered when they fold their Chromebooks into a tablet, the action makes the webpage reload and results in lost work if they had not saved their document first.

“Sometimes they troubleshoot and figure it out and tell me how to solve it for the next kid that has that problem,” Woelber said.

“That’s been huge. The kids here have been amazing.”