Wednesday, June 17, 2015

No Longer a Pipe-Dream...but now what?

Well, the word came officially during a meeting on the second to last day of school: "I expect every 3rd through 8th grade student to have ChromeBooks for next school year." The statement came from our Superintendent during a teachers' meeting where we were discussing solutions to a separate problem. But, as he uttered those words, I could not concentrate much on what the remainder of the meeting was about. All I could think about was how having this technology would change so many things in my classroom. Changes I have been looking forward to since this discussion started a couple of years ago. Now, what was once a pipe-dream is really going to happen...

Immediately, my mind began to formulate several reflective questions:

1. How will this change my instruction?

If my students are going to have the ChromeBooks with them all the time, then I need to maximize their usage in my room. I did bend the rules in the past and allow students to use their phones for data collection, video creation or accessing our Google Classroom account. But, now everyone will have this technology at their finger tips, and I need to take advantage of it.

2. How will this change my assessment of student learning?

I will need to increase student choice now that this technology will be readily available. I always thought I did an okay job in the past, but I will really need to kick this up a notch for next year. I think if I constantly share the learning goal with them, and give them time and space to show me they understand the concept, we should be good to go!

3. Is there an assumption that teachers will know how to best use this technology?

This is what I have spent the most time thinking about. I am afraid that some in the district will see this as a "technology problem" solved by simply providing the ChromeBooks to the students. I am afraid there will not be proper teacher guidance on how to use them effectively to increase student learning in our school. I may need to offer my services for a PD day on this. I am by no means the best person in my school to give this PD, but I think many would benefit from getting everyone in the same room to discuss things prior to the students getting them. My message would be: It is not for us, it is for our students' learning!

4. How will this change what I can expect students to create to demonstrate understanding?

As a math teacher, I need to break away from the old school thought of paper and pencil method for showing understanding. I need to be more flexible and allow my students to decide how they want to demonstrate their understanding. We will be learning as we go, but I guess that will provide me with several new blogging topics.

5. How will this increase transparency in my classroom?

I see this as a great way for our students to show the great stuff that goes on in our room. I am hopeful my students will create e-portfolios and/or vlogs to chart their learning next year. Since a number of our 8th graders are going to high schools outside of the district, I am seeing these as on-line resumes as well. The best part? My students will be sharing their products with a countless amount of people. That should increase their quality for sure!

As you can tell, this will be a summer of preparation for me. I am hopeful these changes will create a love of learning for my students. It may also reinvigorate myself as well, since I feel like I have been in a funk for the last several months. The equal access for all of my students to the new technology just might be the shot in the arm I needed!

Are there any other areas from above that I missed? Please share your thoughts...