OLD BRIDGE — It was just a typical day in Tom Delaney’s eighth grade social studies class at St. Ambrose School.
Students had their headphones on — but they were not listening to their favorite jams. The students were listening to a video on the Louisiana Purchase — the acquisition of the Louisiana territory by the United States from France in 1803 — and taking notes on their own and at their own pace on Chromebooks.
This school year, Principal Theodore Kadela said the school was able to see the goal of a 1 to 1 Chromebook initiative, which was started two years ago, become a reality.
Kadela said money was budgeted for the initiative each year, which was advanced through a generous donation from a St. Ambrose parishioner.
“We have reached the initiative quite sooner than I thought,” he said.
The students in the Pre-K to 8 school also got a surprise on the first day of school when the students saw a 50 inch flat screen TV in their classroom.
Thanks to a generous donation by Father Jack Grimes, of St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church, all of the 15 classrooms in the school were equipped with a television.
“We’re really blessed for Father Grimes,” Kadela said. “He’s so concerned for Catholic education. We work so well together and his generosity is really difficult to put into words.”
Kadela said it is also fortunate that two weeks prior to the start of school, the entire administration from the main office to the maintenance staff, were committed and worked diligently to make sure the technology was up and running for the almost 200 or so students when they returned to school in September.
The TVs have connectivity capability with Google Chromecast, which allows teachers to display educational programs and videos from any device onto the TVs for the entire class to see.
Kadela said part of Grimes’ generosity was also the purchase of two FM audio systems for two students who are hearing impaired at the school.
The new technology further moves the school into the 21st century.
“More and more textbooks are going on line,” Kadela said. “We’re not getting rid of textbooks completely, but time sensitive information about Hurricane Irma [which made landfall in Florida on September 10] can be [accessed] in 2 seconds. It’s state of the art technology that engages the students.”
New programs such as Kidblog and two new series called Social Studies Weekly and Science Weekly will benefit from the new technology, Kadela said.
Eighth grade student Kailey Cogley said with the TVs, it allows them to learn, listen and pay attention more easier to the lesson of the day.
Cogley’s classmate Anne Marie Chiricolo agreed. She said it’s easier to find information with access to videos that describe everything that the students need to know.
“Before we only had textbooks,” she said adding that the students have their own Google accounts and can share information with their teachers through the account.
Student Joseph Maffei said with the new TV, the students don’t have to huddle around a Chromebook and try to listen to what is being said.
“It can now be a big display on the TV,” he said adding that the students were able to see up to date news about Hurricane Irma on the TV.
Delaney said the new technology provides limitless opportunities as a teacher to engage his students.
“I also have a green screen and a YouTube channel,” he said. “With the individual Chromebooks, it allows the students to go at their own pace when reviewing a video, they can rewind and fast forward if they need to.”