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Friday, November 27, 2015

4 months in the making...What I've learned So Far.

Ok, this is happening about 4 months later than I wanted, but here is my first official blog post as a teacher of a classroom that is now 1:1.

So since I have almost 4 months of experience under my belt, I'd thought I'd share with you some reflections of what I've learned so far. 

Have simple, yet precise policies and procedures. 
I teach 4th grade and to most of my students, the technology they received at the beginning of the year (Chromebooks) was very different and new to them.
I made a mistake by assuming my students knew more than what they actually did. So when I gave what I thought was simple directions to follow, all of a sudden the room turned into a mess of unorganized students not knowing what to do. 
I quickly learned to give short and direct directions and set up a very specific set of policies and procedures for my students to follow. After doing this, it didn't take it long for my students to be conditioned & moving right along with me and their devices. 

Let the students play!
What I don't mean is allow students to freely play whatever games they want on their devices. It was actually a real struggle at the beginning to get students to realize that the Chromebooks they just received are not gaming devices and the purpose wasn't to be used like their XBox, Play Stations, or Nintendo they have at home.
What I'm referring to with this statement is that you have to give some freedom to the students and allow them to explore, learn and share with each other as they get used to this new technology that is now at their fingertips. One of the best ways to learn is to "play" with something new. 
My wife laughs at me because I'm always pushing buttons, especially in our new vehicle. But to my defense the only way, I'll know what that button does is to push it, "play" with it and therefore, learn what it does so I can use that feature correctly when it's time. 
It's the same thing for students and their tech devices. Give them plenty of time to explore and play at the beginning and then share with each other. You'll be glad that you did because then they will be much better users. 

Introduce Things Slowly
I was so PUMPED to begin this school year. Especially after attending some local edtech conferences and reading Ditch That Textbook by Matt Miller (@jmattmiller), I was ready to totally revolutionize my teaching and classroom. 
BUT, I knew my students were not going to be ready. My students didn't have the knowledge of the Chromebook and applications like I did, so before having them use the Google Apps for Education tools and use them effectively, I had to teach and introduce them SLOWLY!
What I choose to do was introduce a new application, program, or skill that I would want the students to be able to use some time at the beginning of the week. I did so using creating a screencast "explainer" video using the chrome extension Screencastify and then sharing it with my students via Google Classroom. After watching the video, students were given time to "play" and get familiar.
It was then later in the week or even the next week that I would then use the application, program or skill that I introduced.

Well, there it is. A little snippet from my experience so far. I hope to continue to provide more as the year goes on.

If you would like to connect with me on twitter follow me at @SEANJFAHEY.