On Monday, second-graders in Barberton Elementary West got a lesson on how to cut and paste.

No glue, paper or scissors were in sight — instead, the students’ heads were buried into Chromebooks as they learned how to copy, cut and paste text into computer programs.

Barberton City Schools has completed its 1:1 initiative this year, which means the nearly 4,300 students in the district have access to their own personal Google Chromebooks.

But the integration is just the beginning for the district as it works to incorporate technology into everyday learning with the help of Google programs. It’s a push that has earned the district a national designation as a Google for Education Reference District this school year.

“We are just getting started,” said Superintendent Jeff Ramnytz. “We are working hard to teach more vocabulary across our entire district and enhance our math curriculum. The tools available from Google and the skills Google helps us develop are allowing us to advance as a district.”

Barberton is one of nine districts in Ohio to receive the distinction, and the first in Summit County. As a reference district, Barberton schools will serve as a model for other districts looking to integrate more technology into the classroom.

The district will also be one of the first to get to test new Google programs as they are released, said Michele Gasser, the district’s technology coach.

“I’m excited that we got picked ... This takes good teaching and just amplifies it,” Gasser said.

Many school districts are in the process of incorporating technology on a 1:1 student-computer ratio, especially with Chromebooks, but Barberton is one of the first in the area to have achieved it districtwide.

Barberton students in grades K-8 keep their Chromebooks at school, while students at the high school get to take theirs home. The initiative cost nearly $820,000 as it was implemented over three years.

Along with the Chromebooks, Barberton teachers have spent the past few years receiving training on G Suite, which is a series of free tools developed by Google.

The suite nearly eliminates the need for paper while providing a streamlined learning process for students, from instructional lessons to homework to grading.

Everything done on G Suite is stored on Google Cloud, which means students can access materials from anywhere.

Teachers in the district use the suite on different levels. Some record their lessons and make them accessible on Google Classroom, a free service for teachers to share information with their students. Some give homework assignments for students to complete and submit on Google Docs. Others distribute quizzes through Google Forms, giving students the opportunity to see their grades almost immediately on Google Sheets.

“Now, we’re to a point where everybody uses it in some way or another,” said Barberton Middle School Principal Mike Andric.

Donna Littlejohn, a third-grade teacher at Barberton Elementary West, said she began using the suite simply by having kids type out their spelling words on Google Docs.

But as she learned more, she realized its full potential.

Now, she uses it in the classroom every day, as many Barberton teachers do. On Monday, Littlejohn’s students worked on a creative exercise, using Google Drawings to create what they think they would look like as a dinosaur and write a paragraph about why.

“It just blossoms into more once you find out how convenient it is,” Littlejohn said. “With as much as is being asked of us, it helps us to be more productive in the classroom, more organized, and it’s the 21st century skills that [students] need.”

The teachers’ utilization earned them recognition from Google, which reached out to the district last spring to apply to become a reference district. It received the distinction in the fall.

The transition into a more tech-centered way of learning is welcomed by many kids, who often enter school already knowing much of the technology.

“It’s a little bit easier [to work on a Chromebook],” said 13-year-old Andrew Kohler, a seventh-grader. “Instead of writing stuff, you can type it a little bit faster.”

“I’d rather write,” countered 13-year-old Seven Tracy, adding that he didn’t grow up around computers.

And once they get past the learning curve, many teachers are in support of the transition as well.

“Allowing Google into my room has just brought my students to another level,” said Rebecca Synk, a seventh-grade language arts teacher.

Theresa Cottom can be reached at 330-996-3216 or tcottom@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @Theresa_Cottom.