Nearly 500 Socorro Independent School District eighth graders were eager to receive their own personal laptops recently as part of the district’s Digital Nurturing Academics one student to one laptop program, also known as the DNA 1:1 program.
The students from SPC Rafael Hernando III and Salvador H. Sanchez middle schools are the first SISD eighth graders to get a laptop they can use 24/7 on school work and homework during the next five years.
The DNA 1:1 program was expanded for the 2017-2018 school year to include more than 4,000 students from the two middle schools and Socorro, Pebble Hills, Americas, El Dorado, Eastlake, Montwood, Mission Early College and Options high schools. The program is part of the district’s Operation Future Ready, a proactive plan to provide advanced technology resources and digital learning to all students.
“It’s important that Team SISD students become globally competitive,” said Erica M. Aragon, an instructional technology specialist with SISD. “By having laptops at their fingertips, students become more and more tech savvy. We are teaching our students to think critically and communicate effectively.”
For the first time since DNA 1:1 began in 2014, every freshman at all SISD high schools and every Socorro High School student (from ninth to 12th grade) has a laptop.
“We have already seen how effective it is in high school and the amazing impact it has had on instruction,” said Melissa Trejo, instructional technology specialist. “So, the decision was to bring the program to the eighth grade so we can prepare students even earlier.”
Angela Romero, 13, was the first Hernando student to receive a laptop from the district. She currently uses her mom’s laptop for homework and is excited to now have her own. The 13-year-old and her friends were giddy when they found out the laptop was a touchscreen.
“I feel the same way I felt when I got my viola in the sixth grade,” Romero said. “I was so happy, but a little nervous. It’s a lot of responsibility. But we are really, really fortunate to have this. It’s going to help me a lot. It’s going to make studying a lot easier.”
At Sanchez Middle, Abraham Gonzalez has always had to use the school’s computers for homework or to finish extra assignments. Now with his own laptop, he can concentrate on essays, math and other subjects at home.
“It’s going to be so much easier,” Gonzalez said. “I will be able to use online help. It’s going to help me be a better student.”
Salvador H. Sanchez Principal Rosy Vega couldn’t sleep the night before the laptop distribution. She knew what a big deal this would be for her eighth graders. Teaching and learning are going to be transformed at the school, she said.
“We are not only opening the door for kids to transit easier to high school, but they are going to be learning the skills they need to be competitive beyond it,” she said. “We are also opening the door for our teaching staff to think outside the box when planning for delivery of instruction. It now will embody technology. The four walls of the classroom have now expanded. This allows everyone to be connected globally.”
Luis Villanueva, an eighth-grade math teacher at Sanchez Middle, can’t wait to see the laptops in use in his classroom.
“Students are going to be more engaged,” he said. “This is real progress. By learning this at an earlier age, the students will be used to it in high school and it makes them college and career ready.”