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VSTE Goes Green: Over the years we’ve made an effort to reduce the amount of paper waste that gets accumulated by reducing the scope of the printed program. This year we will provide a printed conference program with only a summary schedule of the sessions available during each breakout session. For the full detailed listing of each session we encourage attendees to make use of our online schedule here which will work on mobile devices and all major platforms.

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Tuesday, December 9 • 10:00am - 11:00am
Using Google Chromebooks to Differentiate and Augment Instruction in Middle School Science

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Prior research by Wilcox and Purcell (2008, 2011) and Purcell and Wilcox, (2011) indicates that the introduction of innovative technologies in middle school science class may improve students’ attitudes about science, their motivation to learn science concepts, and academic achievement. Their research also indicates that less academically able students benefit more from technology interventions than their more academically able peers. The present study investigates how Google Chromebooks may be used to address instructional challenges arising from a lack of technology, students’ varying ability levels, limited English proficiency, and learning disabilities. Thomas Harrison Middle School (THMS) in Harrisonburg, Virginia was chosen to participate in the study because of its limited technology, great diversity of students, and proximity to James Madison University. THMS is one of two middle schools in Harrisonburg City Public Schools. More than 50 languages are spoken in the school district, making it one of the most diverse in the state. Approximately 40% of the students in the district are English language learners. In addition, the school district has a higher than average percentage of students receiving free and reduced lunch (70%). Because of the disparity in economics and language preparation, many students do not possess the science vocabulary and basic science concepts they need to succeed in middle school science. At the other end of the spectrum, however, are the gifted and talented students who often possess an advanced understanding of both science vocabulary and concepts, and require enrichment activities beyond the basic instruction provided in class. Although the school has an abundance of computer technology, access to mobile laptop carts is limited. For this reason, teachers have no way to use technology to provide the differentiated instruction required in their diverse classrooms. To address the unique instructional challenges present in the THMS middle school science classroom, we proposed using Google Chromebooks to augment (and differentiate) instruction. We hypothesized that access to Chromebooks would enable the classroom teacher to more easily accommodate the variety of learners present in a single class by making it possible to simultaneously provide: 1) remedial instruction, 2) enrichment activities, 2) concrete referents and language support for English Language Learners, and 4) access to web-based interactive resources offered by the textbook publisher. In this presentation, we will describe the implementation of Chromebooks in a 6th grade science classroom, and discuss the benefits and challenges encountered when using Chromebooks to augment instruction in middle school science.


Jane Thall

Associate Professor & Department HeadJames Madison University

Diane Wilcox

Associate ProfessorJames Madison University

Tuesday December 9, 2014 10:00am - 11:00am

Attendees (25)