At Dublin’s Ann Simpson Davis Middle School, if you have a problem with your Chromebook, you consult the Tech Ninjas – a group of 17 seventh-graders offering tech support to classmates.
The Ninjas typically work in groups of twos at their tech desk in the media center at the school, 2400 Sutter Parkway, said Cheryl Angel, a media specialist.
The students are scheduled at the desk twice per week, but are allowed to come in to work on homework or experiment with Chromebooks even when they are not scheduled.
Chromebooks are part of the district’s One-to-One technology plan to provide students in grades 6-12 with the laptop computers.
The district is giving students in grades 6 and 9 Chromebooks each year for the next four years, so that by the fall of 2020, all students in grades 6-12 will be outfitted with them, according to the district’s website.
Seventh-graders at Davis received Chromebooks for the first time last year as sixth-graders. This is the Tech Ninjas’ second year of working with them, Angel said.
“They are the experts; they can figure out things a lot faster,” she said.
In addition to becoming proficient in school resources, the Tech Ninjas program also helps students gain experience problem-solving, collaborating and communicating, Angel said.
Students who wanted to join the Ninjas had to first complete an online training program created by district technology coach Rhonda Luetje and then take a test about what they learned, Angel said.
The school is planning to apply the same model to its Maker Space, so sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders could become experts and help fellow classmates use the 3D printer, laser engraver and vinyl cutter there, Angel said. That plan is expected to roll out later this month.
Hira Sohail, 11, said she and other Tech Ninjas help their peers and teachers with tasks such as setting up a printer connection, clearing data, selecting international keyboards and troubleshooting Chromebooks with batteries that won’t charge or have sound issues.
Students needed to get five teacher signatures to join Tech Ninjas, said Sydney Harris, 13. She decided to join because she wanted to help other people.
Fellow Ninja David Stephenson, 12, said he enjoys experimenting with technology.
Tech Ninjas “just opened a new world to me,” he said.
Typically four or five people come in each period to ask the Tech Ninjas for help, Stephenson said.
Last year, Stephenson said, he taught himself how to print from his Chromebook. He made a presentation using Google Slides to show other Tech Ninjas how to do the same.
In class, students use the Chromebooks for assignments to complete either in school or at home, said Suhaylah Rodriguez, 12.
While sitting at the tech desk, she recently helped someone whose Chromebook. Rodriguez said she straightened the hinges.
The group keeps a log of problems that each Ninja solves, along with a list of issues they’ve solved in the past, Rodriguez said.
Like her fellow Ninjas, Rodriguez said she likes helping people.