the following post contains lots of random thoughts and unanswered questions. Read at your risk!!**
On Friday, the model technology classroom team met to discuss various aspects of our journeys. We discussed everything from celebrations to frustrations, created a checklist for staff who come to our room on walk-throughs, discussed how we evaluate the apps we choose and began to create a rubric that district employees will eventually use to purchase apps through the Apple Volume Discount Program for schools. We also started to tackle the daunting task of assessing the validity of using devices in our classrooms and analyzing test scores. Our district is going to referendum in the fall and part of our task has been to pilot these devices to show how they transform student learning. The goal of having these living, breathing laboratories is to be able to have others in to see technology in action, to experience it first-hand and not just read or hear about the benefits.
It has been a journey to say the least, one which has brought with it much joy and excitement but one that also leaves me constantly wondering... What next? Which way should I head now? Which device and when? Which app and why? I don't take this task lightly and I don't want to be "doing apps" for the fun of it.
I want my instruction and tech usage to meld together, to be seamless in how they complement each other rather than the devices just being "the stuff" that we have. So often others think it's about "the stuff" and in my mind that's SO far from the truth. I also often wonder if the goals I have are achievable by first graders developmentally. Do they have the knowledge base or developmental ability to make choices on which tool or app is the best for the job or is that something that I will need to always determine for them due to their ages?? I KNOW first graders are capable, I have from the start, which is why I applied for this task, but to what extent? Are my visions a little overboard or is it ok to set the bar sky high knowing that next year things will be smoother because I will have tried things and will have a better start to what worked, what didn't, and what needs to be tweaked to be better.
So my next adventure on this journey.... blogging/digital publishing/ writing with my 1sties! I have wanted to do this with my kiddos all year but haven't been sure where to start or if I should or could. We do things on our class blog together, but I want them to blog or participate on a blog independently or with minimal guidance. I know they can do it but should they still be doing paper and pencil writing? My feeling is Yes! Technology is great but there's still something to be said about putting your thoughts on paper, I think... So when is the right time? How often should we do it? Can it be an independent but monitored activity during our Daily 5 time? What is the best site for what I am wanting? Can I /should I have them just respond to blog posts related to our learning that I create or should it be more individualized with them doing their own writing?
So how do these ramblings relate? Well yesterday, during our model tech meeting I happened to be multitasking and saw a tweet from @Grade1 (Aviva Dunsiger) that mentioned a post one of her students had done on their blog so I checked it out and the bug bit me again- Hard! What I saw inspired me to start thinking about this all again. The best part though is that I contacted Aviva through Twitter and she was kind enough to respond back to me with an offer of Skype'ing with me to answer some of my questions. I can't wait... I don't think she knows what she's in for... good thing for me Skype is free- can't imagine how much a long distance call to Canada would have cost "back in the day"!
Anyone else want to weigh in on this subject? I would love to network with others who are in this boat or wanting to head out on this journey with our littlest learners as well.