First Week Reflections

It is amazing to me how much I can learn in one week. I teach in a school where more than 50 percent of the students do not have any sort of device at their house, very few have used technology for any project management, and only one of my 17 students knew what a Chromebook was. So maybe I shouldn’t dive into the traditional flipped classroom model, but I found myself super excited to introduce these students to a whole new world of learning.

1. Of my 17 students, none knew about Google Drive. That is where I started. Logging on and off took a good half hour, just to get the user name and password entered correctly. Then I had to convince them that they could log on to any device. So we all logged off, switched Chromebooks, and logged on again. The second day they came to class, they logged on to any device and figured out how to add user. Transformative thinking.

2. We used shared Google Docs and Padlet to create our class norms. I couldn’t help but laugh at the joy they had when they saw their thoughts and ideas appear on the screen! We learned screen etiquette, as the 5th/6th graders had difficulty restraining themselves from adding funny, or not-so-funny, comments.

3. Our first exploratory project was to research our names and what they mean, list our gifts, dreams, and goals to give us some insight into ourselves and subjects and ideas to pursue in our scholarly research.  We will then use Prezi to present our thoughts to the class. My favorite line, as I introduced the tech tool:  “Who has ever used Prezi?”  Silence. One student piped up, “Mrs. Maynor, I think I hear crickets.”  Ha!  My reasoning for Prezi was simple–most were familiar with PowerPoint, so I thought this would be a step up, and I could introduce cloud-based programs, where could explore the multimedia aspect. My students have never created anything like this before, so we started small.  The students used Google Docs to collect their “research”, and grasped the concept of folders and shared documents.

4. I put all the lessons, links, agenda for the week, tutorials, etc. on Google Sites. I built a simple site structure, and I’m sure it will continue to shift and shape as the year progresses. We had a quick tutorial on the site navigation.

5. Inspired by some article I read (forgot to bookmark it), I moved away from “units” and instead, organized my class into workshops, challenges, and scholarly research. Basically the workshops are training (tech, design thinking, video, thinking processes, etc.) for the challenges (PBL)  and the scholarly research (independent study) taps into their interests and passions.

Not long ago I watched School of Rock with my children. Authentic learning experiences, integrated learning, students using their gifts and talents, studying their passions, using exemplars. Sure, the movie is messy and full of holes, but I asked my son, what if school were like that? Eyes twinkled and a smile smothered his face.

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