Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Thoughts on Lesson Planning in a 1:1 Classroom

It's been a busy week. I intended to write a few blog posts about setting up my classroom, the first five days plan, a summer recap, etc. But my learning got in the way.

Last Monday and Tuesday were my PD days. Our district has gone 1:1 this year, and every student from kindergarten through 12th grade has access to a learning device. Kindergarten through sixth grade all have an ipad that they leave in the classroom. Seventh grade through twelfth grade have MacBook Airs. It's a massive undertaking. We are the first district in the state of Iowa to be 1: K-12.

During those two days we learned imovie, GarageBand, Safari tricks, screen captures, and put together projects. My brain hurt each day when I went home. I was more tired than I thought possible. But boy, did the ideas start coming!

Even though I have always had access to technology, knowing that each of my students has that laptop at their disposal truly changes the way I am thinking about my lessons as I design them.  And flipping my writing class, well, it certainly makes that easier.

I've started my website for Creative Writing if you want to take a look. It's in the early stages and I will add content as we work through the units. 

But as I have worked on each day's lessons, I have to think, "Will technology make this lesson better? Will it increase my students understanding of  the material? Am I just throwing in a tech component for no reason?" I don't want to use the tech for tech's sake. I want it to really enhance the learning in my classroom. My mantra has become, "Tech is the delivery tool."

But here are some things we will be doing:

English 9 students are setting up blogs this week and will be blogging and sharing with several districts in western Iowa to start off the school year. I had freshmen blogging during second semester last year and I have to say, I saw their writing improve. I would post a topic on Sundays and they had a week to write the post and publish it. I'll probably continue that schedule this year.

Students will also love the fact that their 3 inch thick textbook is online and they won't have to carry it around! But I will love that we'll be able to use the online components more this year since computer access won't be a problem. There are some great tutorials, videos and ideas online that I can't wait to use.

Creative Writing classes will set up digital portfolios this year (no more clumsy notebooks! Yea!). I was going to have them all use weebly.com for this, but ran across a blog post promoting choice of platform. I've decided to go with that. I give students choice in everything else, why not the platform for their portfolio?

Students will also share documents with me via Google Docs. I liked this last year because we could chat about their work as they were working, even from home. I'm going to add "Voice Comments" this year (a Google Chrome extension). I'm hoping that hearing me talk about their draft will make more sense as they revise and edit.

And of course, I'm flipping this class, so students will work more at their own pace. They'll have time to go back and rewatch videos explaining a genre. They'll be able to look at examples anytime they want. They'll have resources at their fingertips when they need a little help.

Speech and Drama will have their own tech moments, but probably not as much as the other two classes.  Speech students have always done radio broadcasts and TV commercials. These will remain part of our curriculum.  I'm thinking about having them read aloud children's books so we can share with the elementary. I know I'll have them record themselves practicing a speech so they can hear how they sound (and see how they look when we video record). I think hearing themselves before they present will help a lot of them get out of the "slacker boy" voice so common with high schoolers

Drama students will definitely record their performances. We may make a few videos also as we go through the semester. I'll have to keep thinking with this class, but I know there are lots of ways to integrate the tech!

The first few days of school have been amazing. I also have an Apple TV in my room, so I can project my computer screen right up onto the smart board during class. If a student has something to share, I give up control and the student can connect and share their screen. It's a little like watching an episode of Hawaii 5-0!  Kids have been great--not much off task behavior. They like that they always have their device with them. It's easy to keep track of assignments sinceI use Remind101 and Schoology.com
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the year progresses.

Stay tuned. I'm sure I'll write about it!

10 comments:

  1. Sounds like an interesting time to be in your school. Can't wait to read more about how you are using this gift of technology.

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    1. So many ideas, Elsie! I'll try to share the as we go!

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  2. Wow, Deb, you have been doing so much, & changing. What an investment for tech for everyone! I took a look at your site-very slick & I'll look forward to seeing what else is shared. My one question is that some may still not have access to the internet at home-it does cost money. How will the district handle this? Just wondering. Best to you in your continuing quest to do great things for your students!

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    1. We talk about that a lot Linda. For high school students it doesn't seem to affect them as much. They seem to find wifi. All public libraries in the district do have internet access. School buildings are open early and after school for awhile. As teachers, we look at assignments, Many things are downloadable. Microsoft Word, Powerpoint etc are installed so that students can work offline. We just have to keep talking to kids and figuring out ways around no access!

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  3. Ooh, I'm so jealous, Deb! I have so many ideas I'd love to try out, if only we didn't have to tromp up to the computer lab every time I want to have more than a couple of kids on computers! It sounds like you've been doing lots of exciting learning. I can't wait to hear more about this journey!

    By the way, the beginning of your post really resonated with me, because I've had all these things I've wanted to blog about and haven't gotten around to, just like you! :-)

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    1. I'd get home from PD and just didn't have the energy to write! It's getting better though, so maybe I will find some time to write more soon!

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  4. Exciting! Question for you, do your English 9 students link their blogs to yours or how do you work them??? I have been trying to incorporate more blogging.

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    1. I"ve done both. I have had them add link to a google doc (which is what we will do with the classes we are connecting with. And I have had them link to mine in the comments like on Ruth and Stacy's blog. I like the second way better, but with lots of kids and three teachers, the google doc will be better.

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  5. Wow- so much going on with your new school year. All these good ideas and yet I love this line most: Will technology make this lesson better? That's the number one thing to consider! And you have some great ideas to help answer that question with a big YES.

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    1. Thanks. There are sometimes the tech makes sense, but sometimes it feels forced. That's what I don't want. We'll see where this crazy adventure takes us

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