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Netbooks open new paths to learning at Longfellow Middle School in Norman

All seventh- and eighth-grade students at Longfellow Middle School, along with their teachers, received a computer netbook to use at school and home throughout this school year.
BY JAMES S. TYREE Published: September 15, 2010

Students typically don't get excited when receiving their textbooks at school. Getting their netbooks at school, well, that's a different story.

On Thursday and Friday, every seventh- and eighth-grade student at Longfellow Middle School was given a netbook — a small, basic laptop computer, to use for the school year.

"This is pretty cool, said Longfellow eighth-grader Kyle Story. "We have a computer to use wherever we go."

Longfellow Principal Darien Moore said her school recently received 500 laptops for seventh- and eighth-grade students and their teachers. The school won a $968,000 1.1 Digital Classroom grant from federal stimulus funds that were administered by the state Education Department.

Lengthy process

Moore said that to be eligible, a school had to have eighth-grade students and at least 50 percent of all students qualifying for free or reduced lunch.

Longfellow is the only Norman school to fit those criteria, but several staff members spent a sizable part of their Christmas break together last year to write the lengthy grant application.

Carolyn Yates, one of two Longfellow technology specialists, said the funds paid for the netbooks and for rewiring the school buildings for wireless Internet.

"We are all excited about this," Yates said. "These will help teach technology skills and also with working on raising vocabulary and research skills."

Students grateful

Eighth-graders received their netbooks on Thursday and seventh-grade students got theirs on Friday. A class at a time was brought to the school library throughout those days, where students received final instructions and then checked out the school district-owned computers as they would a library book.

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