From math, science, English, to language classes and beyond, technology is being integrated into learning throughout the Bellevue School District. At International School – where students are now a calendar year into having their own laptops through the district’s one-to-one program, students and staff are experiencing firsthand the benefits and possibilities of one-to-one.

The districtwide introduction of laptops for each student at the middle school and high school levels began in the fall of 2013 with freshmen at Sammamish and laptop carts at Big Picture. Laptops have since been distributed to the entire student body at Sammamish, Big Picture, Highland, International, and, this school year, at Interlake and Bellevue High.

Putting one-to-one technology in the hands of students has facilitated exciting new learning possibilities for both students and their teachers.

“We use our laptops for everything school related,” International junior Austin Ulfers said.

At International, students received computers last winter. Principal Jen Rose said the initial rollout of the laptops was focused on how to use technology to facilitate deeper, student-centered learning, and on using the myriad of tools now available daily to staff and students, integrating technology into the classroom.

Departments at International have adopted specific programs relevant to their subject, and are teaching students skills related both to the program and the application within the subject. Students are also learning broader communication skills that apply no matter the content or program.

“By the end of the year last year, it just caught on fire,” Rose said. “One-to-one is about expanding education and having it be in-depth, relevant and engaging real-world experience for students where they are empowered.”

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Benefits of 1:1

Students at International say having laptops helps them to work together with their peers, to be engaged with content, and stay organized.

“As part of an assignment, we have used our laptops to create PowerPoints, videos, and even Sways,” said International seventh grader Kate Toomey.

Marrene Franich, who teaches English at International, said that access to resources, spontaneity in the classroom, communication, and organization are some of the areas she sees the benefits of one-to-one.

Teachers, Franich said, are no longer limited by computer lab time, lines at the copier, or the information bound between the covers of a book. She can now easily assess students throughout a lesson and make ‘on the fly’ changes, taking the lesson deeper or clarifying material that students are struggling with.

Cheryl McClure, who teaches science at International, agreed.

“One-to-one has significantly impacted my teaching, enhancing my ability to update my own planning of lessons, collaborate with other teachers, and to communicate with students,” McClure said. “The ease and flow of a one-to-one environment greatly expands our universe of resources for teaching and learning.”

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Empowering Students, Enhancing Dialogue

“Students are empowered to guide their own learning when they have access to almost limitless resources and voices whenever they need them.” Franich said.

Such access enables students to take control of their learning and engagement with course content.

“Our 1:1 environment has transformed my students from consumers of information into problem solvers, researchers, advocates for change, and synthesizers of information for deeper understanding,” McClure said.

By utilizing programs like OneNote, teachers can give students feedback in real-time, commenting within a student’s OneNote notebook as the student is working in it.

Students add that they are able to work on group assignments and projects from anywhere with access to online class collaboration spaces, which, they say, allows for a balance of work and improved discussion among group members.

“I just did a (group) project on colleges,” Toomey said. “We used the collaboration space to do most of our work…it was a really big help to have our laptops with us.”

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Opening Doors Between Classrooms

“Students’ instant access to information, their empowerment, their desire to learn, their vision, and the teachers being able to be flexible, just changed school from education as a delivery to education as a collaborative experience,” Rose said.

The introduction of one-to-one technology has also fostered further collaboration between teachers on integration of subjects.

In the planning stages, Rose said that the staff spent a great deal of time discussing what integration looks like in the classroom.

“We talked about technology in real-world life, which is what we want to prepare our students for,” Rose said. “You wouldn’t learn how to use technology separate from your work. You would learn how to use technology in order to accomplish your work.”

International’s Research Technology Specialist Tara Jones said that it is exciting to see the results: students applying the knowledge and skills they are learning in a class and on a specific digital platform to their other classes. Part of Jones’ role is to support teachers in integration of technology into their lessons, including co-teaching some lessons about technology.

“(Students) see ‘I’m not just using Excel in math, but I’m using it in my science class also,’” Jones said. “That’s huge…they’re seeing things cross content.”

Now that the doors between classrooms and between school and the ‘real world’ are open, both students and staff agreed that school would be very different if they went back to before having the one-to-one model.

“The world is literally at their fingertips,” Franich said. “It’s hard to imagine going back.

The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.