Textbooks on the way out at high school

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Students at Paris High School will begin the shift toward online textbooks this school year. The school year begins Monday, Aug. 19.

Students at the school will be issued a Chromebook, a computer with Internet access which will eventually replace textbooks, district officials said.

“We’re not going to deal them out like cards,” Superintendent Wayne Fawcett said. “They’ll be phased in. We haven’t decided how, but that decision will be made by the end of August.”

The district has purchased 367 Chromebooks and carrying cases and 340 of them will be used at Paris High School this year and 27 will be placed at Paris Elementary School. The computers cost $106,136. The district plans to spend another $10,000 to buy seven carts for storing the computers. Charging stations will also be built.

“Within months every Paris High School student will be provided a Chromebook computer that will become their connection to information, lessons, assignments, and collaborative activities,” said Margaret Wilks, the district’s technology coordinator. “Students will utilize them to begin to replace textbooks with online resources, create and share written documents, complete research, and work with others to present information to real audiences. As any parent could tell you, students are connected to technology in ways they never could have imagined even a few years ago. Smart phones and computers link everyone to a world of information but, until recently, schools didn’t tap into the real power of online learning. That’s about to change in the Paris schools.”

Utilization of Chromebooks at PHS is only the first step, Fawcett said. Chromebooks will be distributed at Paris Middle School next year and at Paris Elementary School the year after. Implementation at Paris Elementary will be a little different, according to Fawcett.

“We’ll probably use Chromebooks from grades three and up,” Fawcett said. “We’ll probably use Ipads for the Kindergarten, first and second grade students.”

Each Chromebook and carrying case will be engraved with a number, Fawcett said. “Students will be responsible for the just like with textbooks.”

This summer, a team of 12 PHS teachers, school and district administrators were trained in the use of Chromebooks and in a project-based learning system the district will begin exploring this year, Fawcett said.

“We’re going to implement it and this year we’ve got to start exploring that,” Fawcett said. “We’ll look at it this year and do some projects.”

Fawcett said that in the long run, moving to online textbooks will save the district money. The district will spend between $100,000 a year and in some years as much as $170,000 on new text books. Textbooks are purchased on a six-year cycle, Fawcett said.

“There’s going to be some savings over time because in the fifth and sixth year, we won’t have to buy textbooks,” he said.

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