- Sponsorship -

Middle Schoolers Join EGR’s Engage 1:1 Program

The first week of middle school in East Grand Rapids looked a little different than in the past. Middle school students lined up in the media center carrying laptops and tablets of different sizes and styles, ready to equip them for use in the classroom. Technology Director Doug Jenkins helped set up Google Docs and passwords, sending students on their way to begin using the device’s educational tools.

Jenkins is setting the students up with their Engage 1:1 program, which involves each student having a laptop for studying and working with other students. Following a successful first year at East Grand Rapids High Sixth-grader Alex Rosmaria carries his deviceSchool, the district has rolled it out at the middle school.

Assistant Principal Bill Behrendt said the focus is on using the devices to improve education and teach students to use them for reasons beyond social networking.  “Our students are engaged in technology. Why not take that and improve it?” he asked.

The Technology Day featured several back-to-back sessions with students to cover essentials: rules, expectations, online safety and digital footprints, setting the launch page and other programs. “This is like a shot in the arm at the beginning of the year to get them off and running,” Behrendt said.

While several local districts have embraced the 1:1 model of a laptop for each student, East’s program is unique because the district doesn’t fund the technology –  the vast majority of students use devices brought from home. If students don’t have a laptop, they can get one through the district’s scholarship program.   

Focusing on Improvements

Administrators began exploring the idea of a 1:1 program in 2005 and since then have focused on how to use technology to improve the curriculum. Five pilot classrooms in grades 3-12 started in 2009, with seven more added in 2010. High school staff trained extensively in 2011 and 2012 to learn how to use these kinds of tools. The program may expand to third through fifth grades next year, depending on its success at the middle school and in elementary pilot classrooms.

Jenkins said the success at the high school has been students enhancing what they learn and doing things they Sophomore Bailey Katsumata logs on during lunch breaknever could before.  “It’s breaking new ground,” he said. They can collaborate efficiently using Google Docs, or complete a geography project with Google Earth. “They are now able to do research anytime, anywhere,” Jenkins said

After a year of the program, seniors Sally Marsh and Max Gaegauf said they liked having their devices at hand, but were glad it didn’t take over the classroom. “Teachers haven’t overused it,” Max said.

They said the program has increased collaboration, and they like Google Docs and other programs.

“It was just easier to do things with technology. You didn’t have to go to the computer lab; you could just do it,” Sally said.

Connect: Engage 1:1

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.


Fourth-grade hockey fan gets a magical hour on ice: ‘I made the shot!’

Raised as a Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins hockey fan, Jackson Solow lights up while skating on an ice rink wearing his favorite hockey jersey...

‘This time it is continued learning’

One school’s switch from in-person to virtual education last week was nearly seamless, especially when compared with the forced school closure in March...

Foundation grants $28,285 in fall funding requests

Virtual phys ed and art experiences, materials to improve classroom focus and books on social issues aimed at middle-schoolers are among the grants approved this fall...

Latest school closings expand on state-ordered high school mandate

More Kent County districts continue to announce temporary school building closures, as schools contend with a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Kent County and Michigan...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Short stories, tall tales

A collection of short stories by Mark Pullen’s fourth-graders at Lakeside Elementary shows what they have learned in their realistic fiction writing unit...

Bringing ‘positive intent’ to work every day

Heather McKinney-Rewa is the new East Grand Rapids Middle School assistant principal. SNN gets to know her in this edition of Meet the Principal...

Fifth-graders find beauty in science by dissecting marigolds

One teacher used readily available nature just outside school to introduce this year’s science unit, as well as flowers from home to study the parts of plants...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU