Almost 1:1, A Chromebook Classroom

I’m a Mac snob. I admit it. For over 25 years, I’ve had a love affair with my Apple devices. I remember navigating the platform in college, on a BIG desktop, mostly word documents and no Internet. Then I had my own little desktop. Then I went online. Then I learned software such as Final Cut, Photoshop, InDesign and discovered how truly intuitive my Mac was. I remember my first IPhone, our first IPad, the launch of ICloud, my first MacBook Pro!  And then I taught in a Mac Lab. Ahhh….Apple and I, we just get along well. Better than I do with most people.

My new school is fantastic. And like every other educational institute on the planet, it wants and needs technology, but there is the issue of money. And functionality. And sustainability. In all my discussions with my principal, I sensed that my tech needs and wants were probably on hold. The school is only a year old and I figured I was low in the pecking order for tech requests, especially for an enrichment program. Having taught in a Mac lab and moving all my lessons and class management and projects to the Google empire a few years ago, I could not imagine not having some sort of device for each of my students.  I began preparing myself for sharing. With everyone in the school. From a laptop cart. PC’s and Chromebooks were my choices.  Ummm….deep breath. You can do it, I told myself.

It wasn’t too long after these conversations that my principal sent me an e-mail and explained that they had budgeted money for a Smart board for my new room—which at this point in the discussion was still an office–and asked if I would like something else instead. Oh, she knows me already! My deepest passions as an educator!!

We decided on Chromebooks, and as a Mac snob, I’m actually super happy. I’ll have six. Not sure how many students I will have at a time (identification happening in the next few weeks), but I’m hoping for a 2:1 or almost 1:1. I look forward to working with this little device, especially because as much as I love Mac, I also love Google and all that it offers for the classroom and the learning experience. Before I knew about our new little Chromebooks, I figured I would build a ton online anyway, so students would have options beyond my classroom. Here is what was spinning in my head:

  • Use Google Sites for learning platform. Docs, Spreadsheets, Forms, Drawings, among the many Google lovelies integrate well into Sites, allowing my students to engage with a plethora of learning tools. Accessed anywhere.
  • I had already asked that my students have Google log ins so that when they were not with me, they would be able to log into their account and access their work, their creations, their learning. So many schools are going that route, and I wanted Crossroads to do the same.
  • Use Youtube in lessons, both for content consumption and content creation. Visual storytelling is essential in any program.
  • Sketchup. Architecture and gifted kids?? Yep. In the works.
  • Research and SEARCH. I had thought of a research unit called ______Scholars. Students become scholars on their subject of choice.
  • Google Drive. I went paperless years ago. I love the drive. Students trained the first week.
  • Hangouts. I planned to connect my students various experts based on my outline of units. I figured we could do it with one computer.
  • Cloud-based programs I loved and planned to use:  Creaza, Popplet, Prezi,Pinterest…and more.

And that was just the beginning. When I realized I would actually have the Chromebooks, I dove head first into the Apps—tried WeVideo (first unit is digital/video storytelling), loved the Pixlr editor (okay, not Photoshop, but something), found Floorplanner (scale drawings??), explored HTML 5 animation (media design is one of the units–coding and websites, of course)….well, you get the picture. It’s packed. And it’s just Google. I joined a bunch of Chromebook communities on Google+, hoping to glean a few ideas and resources. I made myself a Pinterest Board aptly named Chromebook Classroom. 

I’m excited about our new Chromebooks. I think we will get along well.

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