For the first time Lakota 6th graders will have access to their own laptops when classes start Aug. 15 in the Butler County school system. The distribution of the digital learning Chromebooks is an extension of a historic program launched last school year that saw Lakota hand out free laptops to students in grades 7-12. (File photo/Journal-News)

Every Lakota sixth-grader will get one of these, which officials hope will help learning

For the first time every Lakota 6th grader will have their own computer laptop provided by the school district at no charge when classes open Aug. 15.

The laptops were used by 8th graders last school year.

“This is a great opportunity to not only put a new dedicated education tool in the hands of our students, but it will also help prepare our sixth-graders for junior school,” said Keith Koehne, executive director of curriculum for Lakota.

“While our elementary and early childhood schools are equipped with devices for teachers to share, this roll out will continue to enhance personalized learning for our students while giving them a taste of what is to come the following year.”

Lakota Schools is the largest suburban district in Southwest Ohio – and 8th biggest in the state – and the system grabbed regional headlines last school year for being the first to hand out laptops to all students in grades 7-12.

MORE: Lakota Schools take historic digital leap with free laptops for junior high students

Students were allowed to take home the specially designed Chromebooks – with enhanced security features to guard against abuse of the devices – but that won’t be the case with 6th graders, who will only have access to learning devices while at school.

VIDEO & STORY: Lakota high school students’ turn for free laptop roll out

Lakota officials also created a network of local businesses who agreed to allow students to access their wi-fi internet systems so teens could study on their new laptops while customers at local restaurants, coffee shops and other businesses.

“We are excited to be able to provide district-owned Chromebooks to our sixth-grade students this year,” said Lakota’s Chief Technology Officer Todd Wesley. “This new group of students will have access to enhance their learning in a manner similar to their older counterparts.”

Koehne said the digital learning laptops are key to preparing students for success in an increasingly digitalized world.

“In order to prepare our students for life beyond high school, technology must be incorporated into classroom learning,” said Koehne.

Each Lakota elementary will have “innovation specialists” to support the sixth-grade teachers as they incorporate innovative instructional content, increased collaboration and communication into their lessons, said district officials.

Wesley said the decision to distribute the devices to 6th graders was done with fiscal responsibility in mind.

“These Chromebooks were collected in May from last year’s eighth-grade students,” said Wesley. “It has been our intent from the start of this program to redistribute the eighth-grade devices to our elementary schools when collected.

Funding for the program, he said, is from the district’s permanent improvement fund, which under Ohio law stipulates that such purchases are utilized for at least five years.

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