Technology in Action
Technology opens the world to Model Spanish class
Posted on 02/17/2017
Board member Dr. Melinda Strickland observes students working with Chromebooks
It is not your parent's classroom anymore with the influx of technology opening a whole new world of learning.  In the baby boomer's Spanish classroom there may have been an occasional video or recording of someone speaking Spanish played for the class.  Today, technology is bridging the distance between people to bring native Spanish speakers into the classroom for interaction with language students!  William Carvajal's Spanish class at Model Middle School recently used their Chromebooks and Google Hangout to connect with Cat Flippen, a technology specialist for Oconee County Schools and a native speaker of Spanish. Some of Flippen's relatives came to America from Cuba and many of them still live in the island country.  

The students were able to connect with the native Spanish speaking visitor and ask her questions about Cuba.  Flippen and the students interacted in Spanish until late in the class when Mr. Carvajal turned the class language card to allow for English discussion. Students used their Chromebooks to record Flippen's responses to their questions in a graphic organizer and they included information in their regular classroom electronic journals.  

The Chromebooks were obtained by Carvajal at the end of 2016 through a Floyd County Schools' grant. The class received enough Chromebooks for every student in the classroom and a charging unit to keep them ready for use each day.  Competitive grants were used by the school system to distribute Chromebooks approved for purchase by the Floyd County Board of Education. "The Chromebooks allow me to match instruction with the individual child at the student's level of proficiency in the language," stated Carvajal.  

The Floyd County Board of Education visited the classroom to see the technology in action as the students talked with Senora Flippen.  All five board members looked on as students engaged in conversation with her in Spanish. "The board wanted to see the technology in action in the classroom and this was amazing to watch," said Chip Hood, chairman of the Floyd County Board of Education.  
 "It was awesome to watch those students use the technology," commented Dr. Tony Daniel, board vice-chair. "They just looked like they were at home as they were so at ease with the use of the technology in the classroom."   

A new round of competitive grants has been announced to continue to provide technology for teachers and students to use in the classroom. Teachers will be eligible to submit lesson plans detailing how they will use the Chromebooks to improve learning opportunities. "Today was an opportunity to see how the money we approved to buy Chromebooks is benefitting our kids in the classroom," said Jay Shell, the board member for the Coosa area. "There are some great things going on with technology in Floyd County Schools!" "They did not even know we were there -the students were so engaged in the lesson," noted Melinda Jeffers, the board member for the Cave Spring and McHenry areas.  Dr. Melinda Strickland, the board member for the Model area added, "It was phenomenal to see the excitement in the student's eyes and I even learned some new Spanish words!"  

Floyd County Schools is working to have a Chromebook device available for every student in the system called a one-to-one initiative. The system has made tremendous strides in the last few years as the computer to student ratio in 2013 was 5.28 students per computer device compared to the current 1.64 students per computer in 2016.  

Photo Top: Dr. Melinda Strickland, a board of education member watches Model Middle students (left to right) Kaytlin Hardin and Kalen Carroll enter their thoughts in Chromebooks while board members Chip Hood and Jay Shell observe the class.

Photo Below: Model students talk with Cat Flippen about life in Cuba.

Students talking with Cat Flippen over Google Hangout