At Yarmouth High, the environment is technology

In biology class, Yarmouth High School students plug digital microscopes into their laptops to record video of the organisms they’re observing. They can refer to that video later in the day, outside the classroom.

During the uprising that led to the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, students in a Yarmouth High School social studies class used their laptops to learn from the Twitter postings that were pivotal in ending Mubarak’s reign.

And when Yarmouth students need to study for a quiz, many of them make flash cards using an online tool known as Quizlet and share them with classmates.

Yarmouth High School student Jackson Hall speaks at the 2011 Maine School Superintendents' Conference.
Yarmouth High School student Jackson Hall speaks about laptop use at the 480-student school during the 2011 Maine School Superintendents' Conference.

It’s all part of the environment in which Yarmouth High School’s 480 students learn – an environment transformed by the laptops offered through the Maine Learning Technology Initiative.

A handful of Yarmouth High School students spoke about their academic experience June 27 at the 2011 Maine School Superintendents’ Conference in Augusta.

There are countless examples of how technology has become an integral part of student learning in Yarmouth, where students are assigned their own MLTI laptops from seventh grade through the end of high school.

Each teacher maintains a webpage where students can access their homework assignments. Students can check and download athletic schedules from the school website, which the school also uses to stream special events like convocation.

“It kind of creates an environment where everyone knows what’s going on,” said student Jackson Hall. “It’s really transparent.”

When students start high school as freshmen, they participate in a digital citizenship day focused on proper online conduct and proper use of MLTI laptops.

Yarmouth High School student Ben McNaboe presents at the 2011 Maine School Superintendents' Conference
Ben McNaboe, a recent graduate of Yarmouth High School, speaks about laptop use at the Cumberland County high school during a presentation at the 2011 Maine School Superintendents' Conference.

And when the increased workload of high school sets in, freshmen use their laptops to figure out how they learn best, said Ben McNaboe, a recent Yarmouth graduate.

Some students record lectures and listen to them again at home. Others look at Powerpoint presentations and lecture transcripts teachers make available online. And other students choose to do their own research, watch physics demonstrations on YouTube and use the online versions of textbooks.

“You have to learn for yourself how you learn best,” McNaboe said.

And constant access to technology makes that possible, he said.

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