As we start the beginning of a new year, I’m often struck by the posts I come across on Twitter. In December, we see the “Best of” lists – best apps of 2016, best posts of 2016, and so on. Then as we shift to January, we see the “Trends” lists which includes things like “Trends in Education for the New Year” or “Predictions for 2017”.
As an educator, we always know that new things come our way. New initiatives, new ideas, new resources. And we struggle with how to fit it all in. We ponder how we’ll add something new and then consider what we can take off our very full plates.
As a Technology Integration Specialist, I come across these posts and wonder. Do we add more apps to the collection on our iPads? If so, do we let go of one or two to make room? When I see lists of the “top Chrome extensions”, do we add more? Do we take away from what we’re using to replace it with something new? How do we know that the new one is better?
I find that I have more questions than answers. I hesitate to add more to our teachers’ plates. I read about new sites, tools, extensions, gadgets, and instead of jumping to incorporate them or pass them along to our teachers, I’ve decided to focus my energy on using what we have, better.
We are fortunate to have access to devices such as iPads and Chromebooks. Along with those comes access to powerful tools that we’re not using to the fullest extent. We can do better with what we have. (That’s not to say we’re doing poorly!) I will still check out what’s new and current, because I have a great PLN and I love to learn, but there’s plenty of room to grow with what we already have. Consider this a resolution. I’m sticking with the ‘old’ while considering the ‘new’.
Want to join me?
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This year we piloted our first ever 1:1 program with Chromebooks. We have two teams of four teachers who have enough Chromebooks for each student to use during the day, when needed. We are not using the term 1:1, as that often gets misconstrued. Our students do not take the Chromebooks home. When they move on to another team or class next year, they won’t take their Chromebook with them, but they will get one to use for that year in the new class.
We have six more teams of teachers waiting in the wings for next year to see how this turns out. Having had great success on many levels, we are planning on moving forward and purchasing Chromebooks for 4 more teams for next year. Sadly, our budget doesn’t have room for all six of the remaining teams in this building. We are developing a whole new replacement cycle with these devices and the remaining two teams will use the existing laptops to serve the same purpose; they’ll have enough devices for each student to use, when needed. The plan is that they’ll get Chromebooks the following year. Hopefully.
Interestingly, at last week’s School Board meeting, when the Board heard about with our hopes and dreams for next year, they balked. Were they worried about budgets overall? We’re not asking for additional funding and intend to work within our budget. They want to know how having more access and more devices transforms teaching and learning. They think we’re doing great things with our current set-up. We are. Thanks to amazing teachers who are flexible and patient.
There comes a time when our old structure, having a shared cart of 24 laptops for each team of 80-100 students sufficed. That’s no longer the case. School needs to mirror the real world. Would you ask an employee in a place of business to do their work, but they only have access to a computer for an hour a day? The cost of Chromebooks allows us to move forward in providing more access to learning and the world to our students. We’ve seen the change in students having access to devices when they needed them on these two initial teams. Students are so much more comfortable, fluent, and confident. The device fades into the background as they focus on ways to demonstrate their learning, participate in class, reflect, and grow.
The bottom line is this: it still all comes down to good teachers and great teaching. Teachers are the ones who create the experiences and the culture for success.
We are preparing an updated report for the School Board and for parents, with clear examples of the difference for those in our building with ample devices and without. I’ll share that soon, but would appreciate your thoughts. What can you and your students do if you have ample devices that you can’t do otherwise or if you have to share devices with a number of other classes? This is about the learning, but having the access is a part of it.
Feedback and insight are always welcome!
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Posted in Change, learning, teaching, tagged change on September 29, 2014|
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I’ve changed a lot as an educator. I think back to my early days when I was so young it was hard to believe that parents took me seriously. Then I became a parent myself and could relate to them better. Now I’m older than most parents. The cycle continues.
- I have a broader perspective on education.
- I’m more educated.
- I have a PLN that reaches far and wide.
- I prioritize better and do my best to keep it focused on children and learning.
- I am no longer a classroom teacher, though I will always be an educator.
- I have learned so much from many valuable colleagues, peers, and mentors.
- I spend more time teaching teachers than teaching students. (I hope to balance that a bit more!)
- I’ve taken on more of a leadership role.
- I’m more reflective.
What hasn’t changed:
- My passion for technology
- My ability to keep track of the details and stay organized (I imagine that will recede as I continue to age!)
- My dedication to colleagueship
- My commitment to students
- My belief that everyone can learn
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Post 18 in the TeachThought 30-Day Blogging Challenge: Create a metaphor/simile/analogy that describes your teaching philosophy. For example, a “teacher is a ________…”
A teacher is… a chameleon.
This post connects to yesterday’s where I talked about how many hats we wear. In addition to the many roles we play, we also must be adaptable. Things in education change, our communities change, the new initiatives change, and so on. Everything is always changing and we need to adapt and change with it.
I like Tom Whitby’s recent post, “Why Do We Do What We Do?” and how many of us say, ‘because that’s the way we’ve always done it.’ Often the many changes that come our way in education are not those that we can control. But there are many areas in which we can make positive change. We can be in control of adapting what we do to the times we live in and using the resources we have available.
Change is good. Adapt. Make things happen.
image: creative commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by lezumbalaberenjena: http://flickr.com/photos/14020964@N02/7515883628
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Posted in 1:1, audience, Chromebooks, collaboration, connected, iPad, teaching, tech, tagged change, Collaboration, ePortfolio, future, innovation, personal learning plan, prediction on September 12, 2014|
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Post 12 in the 30-Day Blogging Challenge: How do you envision your teaching changing over the next five years?
I’m going to borrow a format from another blogger in the challenge.
5 years Ago:
I was just getting underway in my transition from classroom teacher to Technology Integration Specialist. We were adopting a new platform for our school website and about to move toward implementing our Google Apps for Education domain. I was adapting to not having my own class and instead, working with students and adults. We had not yet heard of iPads or Chromebooks.
I’ve definitely settled into this role! As a teacher, I enjoy working with students and adults, but have definitely been doing more with adults for professional development. I miss the classroom, but am constantly challenged by the frequent innovations with technology. We’re implementing our first 1:1 with Chromebooks. We’re connecting, collaborating, and sharing a lot with a broad audience.
In 5 years:
Because technology changes so quickly, it’s hard to predict what life in schools and in the ed tech realm will look like in 5 years. I hope to be teaching teachers, as I am now, but perhaps more online. Students will each have their own Personal Learning Plan, ePortfolio, and will be more involved in designing their academic programs, with guidance from educators and mentors. I envision future schools looking something like the what’s featured in the video below, which was a selection of the White House Film Festival for 2014.
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