LFHS equips incoming freshmen with school Chromebooks

By the second day of distribution, 300 Lake Forest High School freshmen had already unboxed their new school-issued Chromebooks, turned them on, logged on and learned how to use their new devices before taking them home with their textbooks.

When they return for Freshman Orientation on Friday, the first class to receive the Lenovo ThinkPad 11e Yoga Chromebooks will be ready to use them immediately in the classroom.

In all, District 115 purchased 450 Chromebooks at approximately $430 per student to equip the Class of 2019 for what the district is calling its “Leading Edge Learning” initiative.

“What we’re attempting to do with Leading Edge Learning is make this more of a regular part of your experience as a student, not a special. We want to deeply embed this in everything you do,” Director of Curriculum and Instruction Giovanni Benincasa told a group of freshmen and parents during one of the Freshmen Chromebook Orientation sessions Tuesday.

Unlike laptop computers, Chromebooks boot up in seconds and have few technology issues, which makes them an ideal tool for in-class use, he said.

“Teachers can use them for a particular learning task and technology doesn’t have to dominate the classroom,” Benincasa explained.

The new devices can be used like a desktop computer to write a paper, for example, but also give students 24/7 access to information online.

With the Chromebook, freshmen can have “anytime learning” by accessing their device throughout the day, Principal Barry Rogers said.

“It’s a much wiser way to use technology. In terms of how we’re spending our money, it’s a lot smarter” than investing in desktop computers tethered to a classroom or lab, Rogers said.

“We’re putting the best tools in the hands of the best students, the best teachers and imagining what’s possible,” Rogers said.

Freshman Emilia Field, 14, of Lake Forest, sat next to her mom Karen Lundgren during a Chromebook orientation on Tuesday, already accessing the web with her new device on her lap.

As a member of the Deer Path Middle School pilot classrooms that received Netbooks as fifth-graders, the “new” device is old hat to Emilia. She foresees many uses for the Chromebook.

“Obviously, I’ll use it for typing papers, but also for searching the web during class,” Emilia said. “It worked out really nice in middle school, but this is actually really cool. I like it.”

Freshman Eric Krieg, 14, of Lake Forest, used an iPad last year at his school in England but said he preferred the Chromebook.

“I feel like this will be more helpful,” he said, noting it was tough to type a paper on an iPad.

Gabriel Martinez, 14, of Lake Bluff, used MacBooks at Lake Bluff Middle School and vowed to use the new device “properly” in high school.

Access to the web and other resources “makes it easier to learn,” Martinez said.

From a parent’s perspective, Emilia’s mom appreciates that her daughter got a Chromebook along with her other textbooks.

“I think it just gets them prepared for the real world,” she said.

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