Students at Lethbridge’s brand new middle school have the world at their fingertips.
Every student at Senator Joyce Fairbairn Middle School is carrying a laptop instead of a textbook.
Grade 6 teacher Wayne Filipenko believes it opens up numerous learning opportunities.
“When they’re engaged in something, they have a chance to explore. So if they’re doing an assignment in school and they don’t have access to it when they’re going home, then that learning just gets canned into that one little spot. But now students can get home and they can explore and expand and if they have questions, they can answer it themselves,” he said.
Parents have to pay about $140 per year to cover the cost of the computer pilot project.
And once they graduate from middle school in three years, students are given the option of keeping the laptop free of charge.
Lethbridge School District noted it works in tandem with how teachers put together their lessons.
“Think about it as the textbook of these students’ generation. We don’t typically purchase textbooks anymore. With our new Alberta curriculum, all the resources the students need are on the laptop,” said the director of Technology and Learning Innovation Jesse Sadlowski.
The program is even bridging language barriers – helping one of Filipenko’s students from Syria who’s still learning English.
“As a teacher, that was terrifying for me because I couldn’t communicate with her. Same for her, she couldn’t communicate back. We grabbed the laptop [and] went and spoke into the laptop. We [used] Google Translate. Within five minutes, we can make that connection.
“So she’s not as intimidated. I’m not as intimidated. The students picked up on that. A group of girls went around, helped her out. They were giggling, smiling, talking, sharing stories — and they formed an instant friendship.”
The district plans to monitor the program for a year but said any school can participate in the program if there is demand for it.
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