Friday, March 4, 2011

1:1 Reflections from the Chalkface

A lot has been written on this blog from a facilitator's perspective about moving into a 1:1 environment, but I expect there are a few of you wanting to know what it is really like if you are a teacher, thrown in at the deep end. 30+ eager kids looking to you to make the dream work....

This week we had our first after school meet up of the teachers from the 17 pilot classes in our cluster of schools. They teach kids ranging from 8 - 15 years of age and all have one thing in common; this is the first year their students have ever owned a netbook to use at school. I wasn't sure who would even turn up because I have been in and out of their classes and seen how hard they are working for it - and another after school meeting could be a bridge too far. They have been using the netbooks for 3 weeks at the most. So I was quite blown away when 24 turned up; including extra teachers who don't want to be left behind and came to learn from the pioneers.

Once we got the most important item, food, out of the way, we followed the agenda we copied from the Maine schools;
    • What is working?
    • What is not working?
    • How have we problem solved?
I created a Google form for people to fill in online and we had some lively and honest conversation for about an hour and a half.

What I am going to do is this; give you a link to all the feedback we collated, paste the positive stuff below and embed a movie from the youngest class in the cluster as we filmed their "Go Live" moment.

Hope something in this is useful to you.

What is working in my netbook class? (submitted through online form)

Year 5/6

  • Children's engagement with learning. All they want to do is go on the netbooks. They love to do anything and everything.
  • Commitment to writing. The kids are getting a buzz out of seeing their writing on their blog. They no longer have to wait for the multimedia machines to post, so I think their commitment to writing will continuously grow.
  • Kids helping each other out with problem solving and trouble shooting. Nice to hear great convos about what to do or how to possibly tackle issues.
  • Certain kids are becoming experts with the netbooks and Google, and are really showing their abilities to help others and become leaders.
  • FINALLY I have enough machines so that kids have unrestricted access to blogging, docs, research - whatever! Has been everything I hoped for in this regard.
  • I am so happy with the netbooks. I use the LEARNZ virtual field trips a lot with my class and it is just so much easier now each student has individual access to the on-line information and can listen to the audio conferences and watch the videos as often as they need to.
  • Use G-edit as default to go on to when docs or internet down. Means time not wasted and students' work can go on
  • Enthusiasm for writing etc from kids
  • Finally after 4 weeks of repetition most kids are becoming competent logging on and off Google Doc/ blog/ mail etc
  • Have now got set time for typing practice which I have made structured and monitored so children are actually practising correctly and working through the levels of the Tux typing programme on their netbooks rather than playing the typing games. Working much better.
  • This week I've have started to introduce some online reading activities -Google forms related to journal activities and the kids are enjoying using those.
  • "Key Things to focus on"
    • Keyboard shortcuts
    • Logging on and off Google Docs/Blogger till confident
    • Copying and pasting from Google docs to blogger
    • Uploading photo to blogger
    • Command T to open new tab so have docs/blogger/mail open
    • Commenting on others blogs and leaving footprint.
    These are pretty much the main things we have worked on in 4 weeks and some are still just getting their heads around it.
Year 7/8
  • Having child experts/technicians to help trouble shoot

What is working? (Notes from discussion)

  • The kids want to work.
  • 4 weeks in, everyone can now log on and get working.
  • Head down, tail up. Group work is working well.
  • Finding new things to share. Getting the students to create forms themselves rather than just fill them out.
  • Getting over the log on practice has taken time, so tasks have been minimal in first 4 weeks. Reading activities, using Google forms.
  • Having visual keys to help through problem solving.
  • Troubleshooting - the students do a lot of figuring it out themselves.
  • Netbooks mean there is always something to do for early finishers.
  • Having a virtual teacher online was a new thing (using a maths video from Khan Academy) , and released the class teacher for support.
  • Willingness of students to help each other. Commitment to improving their keyboarding skills.
  • Communications from students who would not normally do things like that. ie student emailing teachers who would not normally speak up
  • Typing practice. Lots of teachers trying to enforce faster typing habits
  • Personal challenges for each student as they are no longer sharing machines.
  • Take screenshots of work as they go to give a record of what they have achieved in a lesson. eg in a Maths challenge