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Category Archives: Chromebook Reflections

Tech & Long Term Subs

I recently went on maternity leave from February-March. Since I am a piloting teacher with touchscreen Chromebooks, tech is embedded everywhere into my classroom. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious, excited, and nervous to leave a long term sub with all of this technology.  I was so excited for students to show the sub all the amazing things they could do but anxious and nervous about how it would be managed.  The good news is my students had been using their devices 1:1 since the first day of school.  I knew in August I would be leaving around February, so I made sure to utilize the gradual release of responsibility model.  This allowed me to model using technology, provide guided instruction, and then independent time to show me what they had learned. It was this groundwork that showed students how the devices should be used as well as provide them with time to learn how to be mature digital citizens.

I learned a lot throughout this process and wanted to share tips and tricks to help you if you are 1:1 and in a similar situation as I was.

1.) Binder: I left a binder with everything in one place.  This included passwords to any and all websites, a brief explanation of how I use them, and guidelines that students should be able to follow.

2.) Consistency: I tried very hard not to introduce any brand new technology while I was gone.  This allowed me to let my sub know students who were experts in a particular program, device, or tech tool.  These students served as helpers, teachers, and or trouble shooters.  There is something to be said about exploration and allowing students to do this with new technology.  However, I felt that while I was gone, the sub would appreciate students having prior knowledge.  I feel this would depend on the level of tech

3.) Screencastify Videos: Before I left, I did record some videos using Screencastify.  This allows you to record your screen, just yourself and or both.  You can use it for free for up to 10 minutes of recording time.  It automatically saves to your Google Drive and then I can share it with my students.  If they needed help remembering how to use a tool or turn in assignments, this video was at their disposal.  While I realize not all leave for teachers is planned, making a few of these videos to have in your library is a great idea. If your leave is planned, you can create a video library.  This way a sub can play you teaching a mini lesson! Once these videos are made, you will have them forever.  You may even want to make some generic ones that could be watched if need be.

Check out these poetry mini lessons I had my sub play during our writer’s workshop.  She played one video each day!
Poetry Prewriting
Poetry Examples
Poetry Drafting
Poetry Revising & Editing

4.) Organization: Oh my goodness your tech must be organized and easy to follow.  In my situation, the long term sub was able to text/email me with any questions if there was a problem.  If you don’t have that option, I recommend making sure all things are published in your learning management system so students can access their assignments. I also recommend your learning management system be up to date and laid out in a way that anyone could follow.  My district uses Canvas, so it was vital for me to make sure modules, assignments etc. were published.  If it wasn’t published, students couldn’t view it and this caused a disruption in learning.  I twas because of this I plan publishing everything but set it up so students must complete one module and all of the assignments before moving on to the next module.

5.) Classroom Management: I left a Chromebook reflection sheet that students would have to fill out if they were breaking any of our expectations.  I also outlined acceptable use policy and basic guidelines for what students should be expected to do independently.  I placed this in my binder.  Our district also uses GoGuardian and this was an amazing tool.  It allows the teacher to see all the screens at once, push out messages and announcements, and give you a daily report of any and all websites visited.  I didn’t leave this log in information with my sub but as I become more familiar with this tool, I feel this would be a great things for subs to have access too.

6.) Let it go: This of course was and always seems to be one of the hardest things for teachers to do.  As I looked through assignments that students did while I was gone, I noticed it wasn’t quite up to my standards and or not completed in the way I thought they should have been.  I truly think this is because no one will ever replace the classroom teacher. No matter how wonderful your sub is, they aren’t exactly like you and their knowledge base or tolerance level or even philosophy may be different.   That’s ok.  There were some assignments that were a wash or didn’t go like I thought they would.  I took away a few things from this:
~~Even if an assignment was a failure, it didn’t mean the activity was a failure.  Students still were receiving practice and opportunities to utilize technology and enhance their learning.
~~Some of my rubrics and directions were unclear.  It made me re-evaluate rubrics, criteria, and steps students should take with a more reflective eye.  I also had stopped providing video directions rather suddenly.  Next year, I plan on gradually moving toward written directions.
~~Less is more. Some of the reasons why things didn’t go as planned, is students were overwhelmed and or there were too many steps to follow.  This allowed me to really reflect on making directions concise and more clear.

As educators, we all know that having subs is hard. I am however, so grateful for this experience.  It really allowed me to look at my tech from an outsiders prospective and be more reflective.  I can’t wait to apply these to my lessons for next year so having a sub in my room can be as seamless as possible!

What tips do you have for leaving technology for subs? Has anyone tried leaving a Substitute HyperDoc? I recently saw a teacher who created a HyperDoc for her students to work on throughout the entire day.  I would love to know what the management looks like and the content involved

 

Chrome-flections: Redesigns in Canvas Part 1

I have now been using Canvas (our districts learning management system) since February of 2016.  When our pilot first started, it was toward the end of my school year.  Not only was I learning how to implement Chromebooks, but I was also navigating the waters of using an LMS as well as building effective content.  To say it was overwhelming would be an understatement.  However, I learned so very much and those failures allowed me so many reflective opportunities.

Despite failures using Canvas though, I am so glad I had the opportunity to start in the spring.  It was because of these failures, I felt I had a much better idea of how to start the school year off right.  I started at a much slower pace and created less complicated assignments.  I did this not because I felt the students couldn’t do it  but more so as a way for me to model proper use, functionality, and logistics first. I had students start in my reading course, since that is the content I am more comfortable with teaching.  I started with a discussion board with how students felt about reading.

canvas-reading-discussion-board

I loved this way of introducing Canvas to my students.  They learned how to find the reading course on their dashboard and how to type in the text box.  It was a quick way to not only get to my know student’s reading life but to also have them practice using Canvas.  It also provided them the experience of using a discussion board.  We even had great face to face conversations about what makes a good posting and good reply.  Stressing a balance between face to face communication and using a device must be at the forefront.  Students need to learn how to manage this in order to better prepare them for life!

When it came to assignments in Canvas last year, I felt I was all over the board.  My first assignments were with Phonics.  I had students watch YouTube videos and go on digital scavenger hunts for phonics pattern words.  Then I wanted students to type those words into 3-4 sentences.  I remember thinking that since it was February my students would be able to do this no problem.  We were writing 3-4 pages in writing and working hard on forming paragraphs correctly.  What I didn’t consider was the typing component.  It is one things for students to write a sentence but typing that same sentence becomes a whole new ball game.  My first phonics assignments were also filled with multiple step directions that were overwhelming for my students because we had never done this type of work on a device before.  I had also typed out most of the directions.  After seeing my students struggle with this last year and seeing what their completed assignments looked like, I knew something had to change.  I wanted to avoid this stress and use the gradual release of responsibility model to prepare them for more difficult work.  I often think as teachers we assume students are so familiar with technology that they don’t need as much guidance.  While it is true they are more comfortable at their age then say we were, they still need the I do, we do, you do practice model.

Therefore I redesigned my phonics assignments to have video directions instead of typed ones.  Students have the opportunity to listen to me give them directions and then could refer back to this as many times as they needed.  To record these directions I use the record/upload media button (looks like a film strip).  **(Has anyone else had trouble with the sound when recording videos in Canvas?  I have found them to have very low sound quality.  This gets somewhat better using a headset with mic attachment but is there a better way?) ** 

Then I embedded the YouTube videos that focused on our phonics pattern of the week.  Instead of taking a point grade, I made the first assignment a complete vs. incomplete.  I had students record the words they found in their reader’s notebook and come up and show me their list.  I then had SpeedGrader opened and marked complete/incomplete.  I would record my observations in the comment box.  If a student struggled with directions, focus, handwriting, finding the correct words, etc. I could type that as a comment.  Students could then immediately see my feedback and hopefully use that to improve for the next assignment.  They also had a list of words they could use a resource during writer’s workshop.  I designed 3 phonics lessons in this way.  Once I felt students were mastering this, I added points to the process as well as a text box for students to type their list. The next step, I feel is having students use the words in a sentence or two.

phonics-assignment-3-2

What I learned in this process is video directions are a must!  This way as I am monitoring, assisting, and or working with smaller groups of students, the class has access to the directions at all times.  It allowed me the freedom to assist in other ways instead of just repeating directions.  I feel this helped my students become more comfortable with Canvas and digital learning.  It also held them more accountable for solving their own problem and become more independent thinkers.  The quality of the work was higher and students were more focused.  This was definitely a lesson in less is more and remembering the gradual release of responsibility model.

 
 

Chrome-flections: Beginning Year 2!

I am about to wrap up the first quarter of the 2016-2017 school year and I thought this would be a perfect time to reflect.  Since I was a pilot teacher last year for our districts 1:1 initiative with touchscreen Chromebooks, I was able to continue the pilot this school year.  This meant instead of receiving my devices in February, I would get to start the school year with them.  I was very excited knowing that while I was introducing students to the experience that is 2nd grade, I would be helping them learn how to safely use their device at the same time.

Before school started, I made log in cards for all of my students.  I have blogged about this before, but here is a picture of what they looked like last year:
IMG_3904
I went through and made changes to what websites we would use and cleaned up the layout design as well.  I had them laminated and students store them in their pencil box for easy access.  The first week of school was spent going over expectations, signing the contract and learning how to get and put away our devices carefully.
one-to-one-first-day-2016
I also made sure to communicate with families, that we would be documenting our 1:1 journey using the hashtag #2Pis1to1

Next up was to update passwords and learn how to log in using our Google log in.  Knowing from last year that this could be tricky, I modeled first on the SMART board, then I had a student do it on my computer so everyone could see, and then finally they went to their own device to try.  We set goals for ourselves in order to get faster and I really stressed typing with 2 hands on the key board.  I use the Whole Brain Teaching method and would award Super Improver points for students typing with two hands and for beating their previous log in times.
one-to-one-logging-in-2016
I must admit that this went much better than last year.  I think that is largely due to modeling more and giving them more time to practice.  The first several times students used the device, it was strictly to log in and log off.  Now it is a part of our morning routine.  Once students have completed their lunch count, they get their Chromebook and log on.  Their goal is to be logged in before they hear the music which signals them to clean up and meet on the carpet.

The new addition this year was headphones for each student.  Last year the Dunlap Grade School Parent’s Club graciously donated a class set of headphones that included a headset mic.  After much Pinterest-ing and brainstorming with other teachers, I ended up putting a label on each headphone that corresponds to their classroom number.  Then each headphone is placed in a bin and organized by tables.  This way the table captain can get the bin as needed and headphones are stored away with no one tripping over cords.
img_7595
The headphones have been a game changer in terms of each student having their own as well as each student being able to focus on their own work.  Last year anything that required sound made it hard to focus.  Each student would be in a different place and it was hard to get far enough away where you could focus on your own work.  I love how more focused and engaged students are because background noise has been eliminated!

The next thing I modeled for students is how to locate my classroom blog.  I had them all on the carpet and would give one direction.  Students then went to their device, followed that one direction then would come right back to the carpet.  Whenever we learn something new we go over directions in this fashion.  I had started doing this in March last year and it really helped us all stay on the same page as well as give me time to help individual students as needed.  I showed students the long way to find my blog by going through the Dunlap District webpage, then the Dunlap Grade School webpage.  We did the long way for several days.  After two days, I called on a student to tell the class what to click on.  After this was mastered, I then showed them the short cuts and how Google Chrome would start to notice websites they frequently visited.  I wanted them to know how to find it multiple ways so that if one way wasn’t working, they could problem solve on their own to find it another way.  It is important for me to mention that during all of this digital citizenship was stressed, modeled, practiced, and encouraged.  We want to be safe on the internet and do not want to get click happy.  We also learned how to be patient with internet connections, how to refresh, and steps to take if the internet wasn’t connecting correctly.

I then showed them how to navigate our Symbaloo page.  I have a Symbaloo that bookmarks several of the sites we will use throughout  the year.  I went over what each site was, how we will use it, and that some sites are closed for business until we can prove we are good digital citizens!  You can access our Symbaloo here: https://sososeussey.edublogs.org/1-fish-2-fish-seussville-tech-fish/    

While I do find value in students typing in a website in the search bar, I also want students to spend a majority of class time engaged in an activity.  I have found that with all of these websites in one place, students can not only access them in a timely fashion at school but then they are more than likely to use them at home as well.

 

Chrome-flections Week 8!

Yep. Technology and I were meant to be friends! I think this pilot experience is ranking up there with one of the best learning experiences of my career as an educator.  I have learned so much, change my views/ideas, and become more familiar with Google tools (which as an iPhone/iPad girl, it was good for me to branch out!).  I’m so glad that even though initially I was bummed to not be piloting iPads, the powers that be, knew better.  It just goes to show even when you think you know, you really do have no idea. 🙂

That being said here are my new jams: Padlet, Screencastify, & video/audio directions in Canvas (my school district’s LMS)

Padlet
If you haven’t had a chance to check out padlet.com, I highly recommend it.  This website is like a giant bulletin board that is perfect for collaborating and sharing.  I first heard about this during a #ditchbook Twitter Chat.  During this chat, a Padlet was created where people were adding and sharing resources for other educators: http://padlet.com/mourakd/kg7szw5nerr9 I loved the idea of having a board to post and add to so I immediately went to the website. ANNND it’s free!  They do have a school option that is paid but I have found the free version to be just fine.

I decided to create a Padlet for my classroom and I then added links to our other Padlets.  Please check it out here: http://padlet.com/spitzer/SeussvilleWhoNotes I have especially loved using it to help enhance my student’s learning experience during our poetry and figurative language study. Here is a link from the Ditch that Textbook Blog that has wonderful ways to use Padlet in the classroom:  http://ditchthattextbook.com/2014/11/03/20-useful-ways-to-use-padlet-in-class-now/

Screencasitfy
I was introduced to this from our TOSA (teacher on special assignment) and then learned even more at a free webinar through SimpleK12.  This is a Chrome extension that will video record your screen.  You can either choose to just have your voice or your voice and a little webcam in the bottom of your recording.  This got me thinking about the idea of an in class flip that I had heard about at a conference last fall.  It is like flipping your classroom but instead of students watching the video at home, students can watch the video in class.

2 weeks ago, we started our poetry genre study and this was the first time all writer’s workshop activity was on a Google Doc.  I had every student share the doc with me and then I used Screencasitfy to go over their writing piece with them.  I highlighted words/sentences/phrases that I wanted them to go back and revise or edit.  I then added a comment with a link to their first video writing conference.  The next day, students were able to access their video and get right to work on their writing.  This allowed me to conference with 15 students.  I then had the rest of my class at my back table for more guided support in the writing process.  For the first time in a long time I felt I was able to reach each and every student during our writer’s workshop.  I was amazed by the amount of time this saved, how engaged my students were, and how helpful it was for them.  They can now watch the video at any time.  I am hooked and can’t wait to continue using this in the future.  The gears in my head are already turning for how I can use this with reading conferences too.

Video Directions in Canvas (LMS)
If you read my last post, you are probably aware that I’m trying to navigate the waters of an LMS.  Over the weekend I was going back through some of my notes from our webinar and I happened upon the option of inserting videos in assignments.  Then it clicked.  I could create a video providing students with directions that they would be able to watch and watch again if they needed help remembering. Yep.  This was happening.  I went ahead and created an assignment for students to learn and practice plurals that end in s and es.  I opted for the directions to be a video too so that students could see my excitement. 🙂 After recording the directions, I inserted YouTube videos that highlighted plurals.  Part of the directions were to watch the videos, and record plurals in their reader’s notebook at the same time.  They made two columns and separated the plurals by s and es.  When they were done watching all 4 of the videos, and had at least 10-15 plurals written, they were to show me their notebook.  Instead of having students submit something to grade later, I simply checked that they had completed the assignment. OH MY GOODNESS. GAME CHANGER.  I wish I would have done something like this at the very beginning of the pilot.  It went so smoothly and students were 100% engaged.  I walked around during their working time and offered support and guidance as needed. I cannot wait to use this again and even tweak it to make it better.

These tools are so simple yet have been game changers for my classroom.  Do you have any tech tools that have been game changers for you?

 

 
 

Chrome-flections: Canvas & SeeSaw

I am just about to end my 6 weeks into my 1:1 pilot and I thought I would take a moment and reflect on my experience with Canvas (our learning management system LMS) and SeeSaw (an online digital portfolio).  Before the 1:1 pilot had started, I had been using Seesaw since October. I have been using Canvas for 5 weeks.

Canvas LMS

What I Love

  • Course Creation
    • easily hits substitution component on SAMR model
  •  Grading
    • Create rubrics that make grading a breeze
    • When grading submission simply click on score, then automatically totals points/percent
    • Can leave comments and attach files to provide feedback to students
    • students can resubmit assignments
  • Discussion boards
    • can set up so students can only see feed after first submission
    • when you grade you see all of their comments on one screen
  • Differentiation
    • Create courses and you can choose students to invite
    • I created book club for one of my second graders who is reading at an 11.2 level
    • Love the idea of using this as a way to do any type of differentiated group
    • Great Hub and opportunity for more
  • Support
    • Great videos and resources available to help you learn
    • Webinars are a must

What I’m Still Learning

  • Navigating the site
    • seems not very user friendly at first
    • constant practice is necessary
    • students struggle with navigating
      • does get easier but still wonder what this will look like with 2nd graders in August vs. now
      • with time things do get smoother but just something to keep in mind
  • Course Creation
    • must determine how you want to organize first
      • One whole course vs. each subject being a course
      • modules and file folders
      • can feel like a lot to wrap your mind around
    • feel this could set up teachers to create busy work at first because of the push to use program
  • Grading
    • K-2 has standards based report cards so our grades are not pushed into Powerschool.  While I’m starting to feel they don’t need to be, this makes Canvas less of a selling point for K-2 teachers.  Also will upper grade teachers change their mind of loving this option as they move toward standard based grading?
  • Time
    • creating courses can be time consuming depending on teacher
    • especially at first, it will require work outside of school day which I don’t mind but I know some teachers do
      • For the first 3 weeks, I worked on Canvas every night anywhere between 2-5 hours each time. I do tend to want things to be perfect, cutesy, and unique though
      • After week 4 and 5, I pulled back feeling that less was more and that I was creating unnecessary busy work
    • Will need to front load at the beginning and perhaps will get easier
  • Commons
    • not sure I know how to use to its fullest
    • not a lot out there for my particular grade
    • a lot of times files are blank templates
    • would love to see more examples of lessons created that hit all levels on SAMR model

Overall Reflection: I LOVE the grading component but that would probably be the one thing that I think would be hard to replace or that SeeSaw doesn’t have.  Has anyone else who is new to using an LMS noticed that they started creating tech lessons for technology sake?  I know that as you go through any process you modify and get better though. We will just have to keep that at the forefront so we don’t fall into that trap which could create a drop in community support.

***I do hope we are able to discuss use of the parent portal because I would be interested in what this looks like.

SeeSaw

What I Love

  • Navigating the site/app
    • kid friendly
    • easy to use
    • less to click on
    • easy to organize
  • Set up
    • user friendly
  • Support
    • great resource page filled with ideas
    • Twitter chat every 2nd and 4th Thursday night at 6pm CST
    • Free hands on webinars
  • Portfolio Based
    • can upload photos, videos, drawings, notes, and links
    • Students can take a picture of learning, record voice to explain and draw over it as well
    • showcase student learning in easy format
    • promotes reflection
    • hits more components of SAMR model
  • Grading
    • supports K-2 standard based grading system due to portfolio based setup
  • Parent Access
    • parents can comment and like their child’s work
    • student can then see that
    • opens up communication
    • strengthen’s home school connection

What I’m Still Learning

  • Grading
    • grades aren’t automatically calculated
    • can’t click on rubric and grade not determined for you
  • Course Design
    • I feel it isn’t designed to to this, doesn’t mean you couldn’t
    • Feel this lends itself more toward a digital portfolio
  • Google Drive
    • since hyper docs are my new favorite not too sure how it would work within SeeSaw.  I participated in a webinar recently where it said you can save digital creations from other apps, links, or PDFs and Google Drive was one of the ones mentioned.  I would need to explore this more thoroughly.

Overall Reflection: I really want to know if there is a way to link SeeSaw within Canvas.  At one of the Canvas webinars I attended, I learned you can link to an electronic portfolio but I am just not sure how to do that.  While I feel there are elements of Canvas that are similar to SeeSaw, I feel SeeSaw can feel bit more kid friendly.  I did really enjoy the SeeSaw webinar that shared lots of amazing ideas. It had me rethinking how I currently use Seesaw.

Final Thoughts

I feel both allow for students to create and submit their learning!  I feel both have great features and both have things I’m still learning or am not a huge fan of.  The problem is there will never be the perfect one just like there will never be the perfect community.  It will all depend on what the teacher brings to the table.  While I may struggle with one area that might not be the case for everyone.  It will be vital to find out where people’s strengths lie, what people are struggling with, and keep communication on going.

I will be curious to hear how other teachers in our pilot feel and what their experiences have been.  What does your school use and what positives and negatives have you seen with it?

 

Chrome-flections Weeks 4-5!

These last two weeks have been very different in terms of success.  Week 4 I felt like I hit my groove with using these devices but Week 5 brought feelings of failure, stress, and oh no am I using technology as busy work??  Part of this I feel lies in my need to have everything run smoothly and practically perfect.  If there is anything this pilot has taught me it’s that fail means first attempt in learning.  It is OK to fail.  Now the learning and growing process can begin.  I thought I would take a moment to divulge why these weeks felt so different.

Week 4:
By this point in our pilot, students have established routines and we have procedures that have been tweaked and practically perfected.  Logging in has become a breeze, students know when to get devices, where to store them, and are quicker at finding what they need. Students have used Canvas (LMS: learning management system) and are familiar with the set up and organization.  Typing skills have improved thus boosting their familiarity of the keyboard.

During this week, I made sure to infuse more mini lessons throughout the day.  I have become a fan of Google Docs as a way to make interactive lessons where students can move at their own pace.
Setting Exploration Google Doc
Fraction Investigation Google Doc
(these would be the 2nd and 3rd Docs we have done!)

I noticed that students were having trouble with managing their time, so I instantly delivered a mini lesson teaching them where to start, where to click, how to manage their tabs, and how to record their thoughts while they watched the videos.  We were using post-its but they were getting lost and misplaced.  Students now use their writing journal as a way to record items they want to remember and then use that to help them fill out the independent component of their Google Doc.  Introducing the notebook was a game changer.  Students then didn’t have to go from the video to the Google Doc and it made it easier for them to remember what they wanted to say.  It also introduced a way for students to revise their thinking when they went to type.

Students were given a 2 week time period to complete and submit the above Google Docs and were encouraged to use lessons taught throughout the week as a way to help them.  I also made sure to monitor student work by making myself present and available for students who needed guidance.

Week 5:

The week started out strong, but I slowly realized a couple of things.

  1. Students were submitting assignments that were either missing components, had incorrect sentences, and or were completely submitting the wrong document altogether.
  2. Students loved watching the videos but were stuck in a loop of just that and not recording their learning on the actual Doc itself.
  3. Students were not using the rubric as a way to check to make sure they have completed all of the assignment.
  4. Students knew the due date was approaching and gave up when a problem would arise.  Instead of trying other things or asking a peer, they immediately wanted me to fix it or they guessed.

This then caused a million and one thoughts to pop through my head.  Had I expected too much?  Were there too many steps?  Were the assignments setup in a way students would fail?  Is it because of their age?  Why are their writing skills regressing when they type?  Did I just create a bunch of busy work so they were using the device or was it really enhancing their learning? Are students too distracted by other students watching the same videos so they are unable to concentrate? Is it a time management problem, an assignment problem, a device problem, or a technology problem?  Or is that how it will be at first so maybe less is more in the beginning?  Maybe I did too much too soon?

Oy. Needless to say that is a lot for one person to think about but a great opportunity to reflect non the less. Friday left me feeling completely defeated.

On Saturday, I participated in a free Webinar through SimpleK12 on how to use Chromebooks in the classroom.  At first I thought this might stress me out even more but it actually did the opposite.  One of the presenters  was asked her number 1 piece of advice for people going 1:1 for the first time.  She said, try everything and get yourself familiar with what you’re asking the kids to use and do.  Her example was to use a Google Form to figure out who is coming to a party and what they are bringing.  Basically find a way to infuse it into your daily life.  That is still you practicing how to use a tool.  We have to be the students and we have to explore too.  You will fail but you are learning as you fail.

This started me thinking, even if last week was a complete failure on the surface, maybe more learning was happening then I thought.  I then made a list of what my students were doing at any on point throughout the week and came up with the following:
-naming a Google Doc
-making a copy of a Google Doc
-practicing using a Google Doc
-navigating a Goolge Doc and YouTube in a safe manner
-recording their observations
-practicing their typing skills
-learning about setting and fractions in a different way
-collaborating with their peers
-navigating our LMS
-submitting assignments
-learning the importance of time management
-familiarizing themselves with what keys to push to correctly punctuate and capitalize a sentence
-navigating Google Drawings
-learning what tools will give them the picture they want
-how to insert a Google Drawing in the correct place
-how to check spelling using their touch screen feature

OK. So maybe not as bad as a I felt.  Is there room for improvement? YES! If and when we move forward with a 1:1 roll out we will have to keep this in mind when communicating with teachers, students, board, administration, and families.  It will take time.  This is a learning curve for everyone.  But anything worth doing is worth doing well and anything done well will take time. The amount of rigor that is involved with using technology still shocks me on a daily basis.  This is hard.  Do I think it is impossible? No.

While sharing my woes, something was mentioned that maybe students can’t do this.  Maybe they can’t, but maybe they just can’t do this yet.  And that’s where good teaching needs to step in.  Also as this rolls out throughout the district, each grade will notice an increase in skills.  It will get easier as it becomes more familiar.  I feel that with anything new you will have ups and downs throughout the process.  There is nothing wrong with high expectations as long as students are given the tools to reach them.

Alright week 6, I have a new plan. (Thanks of course goes to my teaching partner Kelsie who continuously keeps me in check and reminds what to focus on.)

Less is more.  I just went through all of my courses and eliminated pages or assignments that were busy work or unnecessary.  I also limited the amount of assignments kids are responsible for within a week.  Thanks to a coworkers suggestion, I created checklist for students to use as way to manage their time while working through a Google Doc.  I made links that made copying a Google Doc easier thus saving instructional time. I also want to brainstorm ways to incorporate the technology in a more seamless fashion and not so rigid.

Phew! Here’s to an open mind, a deep breath, and a fresh outlook on week 6!

Success & Failure

 

Leaving a Positive Digital Footprint!

Piloting a 1:1 classroom has been a dream for me! I cannot even begin to express how giddy it makes me on a daily basis.  I love the idea of creating a glass classroom where collaboration, problem solving, and critical thinking can happen on a more global level.  I feel lessons now have the rigor the common core and the education system requires but in a way that is fun and engaging for kids.

I know what you are thinking.  That sounds great but what happens when a child misbehaves and the device is involved?  How do you take away or limit the time spent on a device when the whole point of being 1:1 is using said device?  Do not get me wrong, face to face communication and pencil paper skills are still important and are vital to a balanced life long learner.  However, if the punishment is always no device for you do this worksheet instead, are we sending the right message?  Are we creating a society who when faced with a digital citizenship, cyber-bullying, or device care issue will know how to fix their mistake and learn from it?

As a teacher and a mom, I know the natural reaction is to take it away.  Does this mean then for every lesson you create digitally, a backup must be created that could be used in case a behavior issue arises?  While I’m all about putting in the work to do something well, I’m also all about working smarter not harder.  Should a teacher have a back up plan in case of a technology or internet break down?  Yes. Should a teacher have to create a paper and pencil or “old school” version of every single lesson on a device? Oh boy. Teachers would be burn out in the first week of a 1:1 roll out.

So what is the answer?  I don’t know that is that simple yet.  However, I do think there are alternative arrangements that can allow for students to be taught important social emotional skills in a safe learning environment.  Why not take the opportunity when they are young and they are surround by trusted adults to teach students how to behave when it comes to using a device or the internet.  This way we can create students who are capable of leaving productive and positive digital footprints.

I feel an important first step is creating a list of expectations.  This can be done in a way that is comfortable for the teacher’s style but the more of a group effort it is, the more buy in.  We used expectations our school had created for iPads, our student handbook, and my student’s ideas to create a list of expectations.  This was a great classroom meeting topic and brought up some great discussion points.  After the meeting and a consensus of the final product, everyone signed it.  A copy hangs in our classroom and a copy  was sent home to all of the parents.

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I then took these expectations and converted them to a Chromebook reflection sheet.  I wanted a way to document broken expectations in a manageable way that would be able to communicate with families what I had witnessed at school.  When a situation arises where one of these is broken, they select the expectation(s) that apply and reflect on the following: what they choose to do, what they should have done and how they will prove they can handle this the next time.  I sign it, it goes home for a parent to sign it, and then is returned the next day.  Here is the reflection sheet I created: Chromebook Reflection

As soon as the reflection sheet was introduced, I felt students understood the seriousness of the issue even more.  They didn’t want to have to explain to their families that a unique opportunity our classroom had been given was something they were taking for granted.  What I am trying to be proactive about is should there be a set number of reflection sheets before another step is taken?  Or do I just continue to use these and base it on a case to case basis?  I also am keeping in mind that anything new makes it much easier to manage because of the excitement level.  That could wear off, so then I feel as a teachers, it is our job to keep that drive and excitement at the forefront.  When students are engaged in the experience, behavior problems lesson or disappear completely.

Another alternative I have found to be effective is instead of typing in TodaysMeet, Google Docs or a website, students who break expectations have to write their responses instead.  Students know where to grab writing paper if they are prompted and we can continue on with the lesson.  I also have had students sit in a designated spot and have a required check in before posting, submitting or sending anything over the internet.  This way they are still able to practice the digital skill but they have more of a guided and monitored approach.  The goal of course being to achieve digital independence that I would expect of a second grader.

What do you do though when cyber-bullying or misuse of the internet occurs?  The pilot team discussed setting certain internet filters that would still allow a student to use the device and the internet to complete lessons, but their freedom would be restricted until a time when they were able to handle it.  For example a junior in high school might get the same filter as a K-2 student until they could prove they were able to handle the freedoms that come with being a more experienced digital citizen.

One of the most interesting social emotional conversations that has come out of this pilot for me is students critiquing others ideas, typing, writing, or spelling.  For some reason once students were reading the words of others on a screen, it became easier to poke fun of or overly criticize their ideas.  It made for a great lesson on how typing is not as easy as writing.  There is a lot more thinking involved.  You have to know where the keys are, type them correctly, and sometimes press multiple keys to get what you need.  We then acted out scenarios, practiced kind words to say, and discussed ways to disagree that were appropriate.  I feel this is where some teachers might give up all together.  However, I kept at it.  I changed the way I monitored postings, circulated the room more frequently, checked in more often, and celebrated success.  I feel by providing students with what it should look like and then giving the opportunity to directly apply this skill, has been important.  I feel teachers know this but for some reason once technology is involved, we assume they don’t need as much guidance.  The directions are there usually in audio and or video form.  Why on Earth can’t they figure it out on their own?  We have to teach them.  We have to lead them through it and we have to fail several times in the process.

Tonight I created a playlist on my classroom’s YouTube Channel dedicated to digital citizenship: http://bit.ly/DigitalCitizenshipPlaylist My plan moving forward, is to introduce students to these new resources and discuss the idea of leaving a positive digital footprint.  In order to get families on board, I created a homework assignment inspired by Pinterest.  Students will think about the positive digital footprint they hope to leave 15 years from now. They will make a list with their families and bring it to school where we will create some “digital footprints”.  Check out the blog post that sparked it all: http://thetidyteacher.blogspot.ca/2012/11/digital-citizenship.html

Digital Footprint Homework Assignment

Social emotional skills involving technology are extremely important and often overlooked.  We also have to remember taking away the device, while possibly solving the problem temporarily, might not help them develop skills to fix it later in life.  What plans could we have in place to help students learn the importance of being a mature digital citizen?  Will there be times when a device must be taken away?  Absolutely.  I think we just have to be open to the fact that maybe that shouldn’t be the first gut reaction.  Just like we teach students to interact with friends on the playground, we need to teach them how to interact with students on the digital playground as well.  If we only teach them how to interact on this digital playground without the tools to do it, it will take longer to sink in.

Better readers become better readers by reading. When a student struggles with reading, we put plans, procedures, and small group work in place to support those learners.  They are given more guided or one on one support until they are able to take off with a book!  So why not do the same when teaching digital citizenship or social emotional skills involving technology? Better digital citizens become better digital citizens by practicing and applying digital citizenship skills.  When students struggle with this what type of plans, procedures, and small group work can we add in to support these learners?

What do you do to help your students leave a positive digital footprint?

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