We can save again!

Previously I wrote about some of the tech issues we have had this year. A new Internet filter for our district meant that many of the Web 2.0 tools my class is built on simply did not work. At the same time the new filter was adopted the district adopted a new Student Information System and the roll out had a number of bumps. That meant there were not a lot of tech support people to look into my issues. Well, the problems have been resolved and my class is back and running smoothly. Well smoothly for me- you may think it is chaos, but I like it like that.

Because of all of the network issues we had earlier in the year I had to piecemeal together applications for kids to use. What worked on one machine for one student did not work on the next machine for another student. It was a really crazy time, and I have to hand it to the students who stuck to it while we tried to find a way for them to get their work done. At any given time  some kids were writing in Docs, some in Word- different versions, and some in Live.com. depending on what worked at the moment. As crazy as that was, in the long run it turned out great. Now I have kids deciding on which application to use for a particular task, and are able to say why they are making that choice. “I am going to do it in Docs because I want to work on it at home.” “I am using PowerPoint because I really like this template.” While I do not want to go  through the tech problems we had this year again, the results- kids able to decide on which application to use and why, and kids able to figure out a way to get something done, are really amazing!

The return of Web 2.0 to my classroom came at a time when we were doing research papers. I was able to introduce Easy Bib as a way to build their bibliography (I added it to our Google Apps for Ed domain), and Bookmarks.Google.com as a way to keep track of, and even share, the web sites they are using for their research. I even threw in Books.Google.com so they could find books now that school libraries seem to be a thing of the past. So because of the technology nightmare that was the first semester my students are now really able to move seamlessly between applications, solve problems, and make thoughtful decisions about what they are doing. Put that in the win column.

Astonishing Kids

“If you’re not astonishing the kids, they won’t be astonishing you back!” -Stephen Heppell

I came across this quote a few weeks ago on Twitter. It made me think about which of my kids are doing astonishing things, and which are not. The picture with this post is of my students giving a presentation to the school board. In the summer. After grades were turned in. They were finishing their project. I think that was astonishing. I have a bunch of kids doing astonishing things. 

But I have also been counting the number of kids who I am clearly not astonishing. Lets just say I do not have enough fingers to count that high. Even if I use my toes I come up far short. So I guess I need to, as my students would say, step up my game.

I teach a technology class, and am fortunate that I have a very wide range of curricular choices. I can really take the class in directions that most teachers can not. I do not have a district mandated pacing guide. I do not have an end of year standardized test. So I really have no excuses, no road blocks. I have a very supportive site and district administration- they will allow me to do what I think best. They trust my judgement. But still, looking across my room I see kids who are not doing astonishing things. 

I guess that means I have room for improvement. I need to be more astonishing.