Newsletter for November, 2019
Educators from Bequia schools gather to talk tech

by Orthwin Simmons
Bequia Community High School

Teachers were invited to a meeting with personnel from the Grenadines Initiative on October 24 th at the Learning Center. The meeting was held to discuss the Chrome Book Program the organization has launched to put Chrome Books in all the island’s schools. The hosts exposed the teachers to the Chrome Book’s features and wanted feedback on its possible inclusion in the teaching and learning processes in our schools.

This is a welcomed initiative. I was hooked on the chromebook’s light weight and sturdiness. They would survive the usual daily activities and then some from our students and can be moved around quickly and easily without fear of damage from simple mishaps (unlike the others we had). The all black design and limited openings (ports) along with the sturdy hinges limit dust and water damage and screen separation. The speakers are audible from a good distance and it boots up pretty quickly and runs quite smoothly.
There is no internal storage and while some may see this as a negative, I see it as a plus. There is plenty of free standalone cloud storage, plus those that come with emails, and students can always purchase a portable drive. Having no memory extends their shelf life and students learn to manipulate online resources more efficiently. 

A significant benefit is the access it gives to free online resources and the tech skills students can develop while interacting with the Chromebook. I am particularly pleased because by getting the Chromebooks into the primary schools, students are exposed at an earlier age to technology as a learning resource and possibilities while they are at their more curious, imaginative stage of development. It provides the opportunity to teach our students to become manipulators of technology and not mere users. Additionally, with earlier exposure comes greater success in Information technology at the secondary and tertiary levels.

The greatest impact for me would be the assistance and access it would provide to online resources which can help teachers target and reduce the literacy/numeracy deficit faced by so many of our students. Moreover, it would increase the opportunities for individual assistance in large classes and create avenues for collaboration among all involved.

I do hope this initiative takes off. Teachers are willing and ready to use the resources in whatever ways possible to enhance the teaching and learning processes. We welcome it.
Growing the chromebook program

by Glen Herbert

Chromebooks are just devices, of course, and not the be-all-and-end-all of education. But, they can be a useful tool in supporting existing programs. The benefits include that they are relatively cost effective, so can be purchased in quantity, and have a lot of utility across the grade levels. Older students can use Google Drive (typing up essays, making slideshows, using spreadsheets, doing some graphic designing, etc.) and younger ones with internet-based programs (Dreambox; Raz Kids; Starfall). More broadly, as described by a recent World Bank report, diminishing the digital gap—that which exists between students resident in the Caribbean and their North American peers—is regarded as the most effective means of improving academic outcomes throughout the region.

Some literacy and numeracy resources are paid products, though very many are free. Raz Kids is a particularly good one—it’s a levelled reading resource that includes 100s of ebooks. We've purchased a one-year site license for use at the Learning Center as a kind of pilot project, i.e., to see if kids would use it, and to determine if the outcomes are measurable. So far, it seems that they are working very well on both of those counts, thanks to the fantastic stewardship and teaching of Tylisha Miller. We'll fund similar apps in other settings, and indeed will absolutely consider getting a site license for any school that feels it would be a useful addition to their classroom resources.

Right now, we have Chromebooks in The Learning Center and two island schools: SDA Primary and Lower Bay School.   If there are others who might like to be part of this program, we'd love to know.   This is entirely funded by the Grenadines Initiative. There is no cost to any participating school.

Thanks to the following donors who have helped make this program possible:
Elizabeth Hodgson          
Alisha Penner                 
Barbara Nash  
Jean Lawrance               
Irene Heese                   
Darlene Barton                
Heather Traub
John Edwards
To donate, click here , or reply to this email. At the time of your gift, indicate that you'd like to support the Chromebook Program. If there is a specific school on Bequia that you'd like to support, feel free to note that as well. All support is very greatly appreciated.
Firefly New Year's golf tournament to support Junior Sailing Academy
The annual Firefly fundraiser will be held January 1, 2020, in support of the Junior Sailing Academy Bequia, an organization teaching children to sail and also providing opportunities for future careers. For more on the Sailing Academy, click here . T o learn more about the event and to sign up, call Firefly Bequia Plantation at (784) 458 - 3414 or email Rodney, the manager, at .

About the course
Designed by Lennart Freeman, the 6 hole, par 3, cross-country course was designed to have a minimal environmental impact. Instead of greens, it uses flagpoles for scoring to complete a hole you must have the ball come to rest within one club length from the flagpole. Clubs and balls are available for rent at the Firefly Bequia Plantation .

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