I noticed that the single Nexus 7 I have in my classroom for social networking has started to be much in demand. I bought it using Scholastic points (way over priced). It is dedicated to out classroom Google account and our Twitter connection to other fourth grade classes.
I want about two or three more now. We need devices like this to provide equity in the classroom. I have strongly encouraged BYOD. That is paying off, but there is so much stress on the school’s hardware that it has resulted in a decided advantage to students who have their own mobile device.
How is everyone else making the transition to BYOD as business as usual?
Another Android device showed up into classroom this morning. It looks like an inexpensive tablet. The boy has a new iPod that also comes to school. I think he wanted something bigger. I like the eclectic devices we are using. Learning has no official device.
It is fascinating to see how each person in my class approaches reading in their own way. Can you spot the differences? Can you find the fourth reader in this picture?
I like to capture these moments. So many of them are here in one of the classroom’s reading corners. It was a happy thought to include them in the room. The boy is playing a game. The devices come out in their free time.
I certainly let my blog slip this year. Like many teachers, I have been directing my energies elsewhere. This WordPress blog, and my venerable wikistange classroom page have declined in importance. I am noting a number of successful activities languishing this year. My students don’t have digital portfolios this year. The time and resources went into Edmodo connections. I have not used VoiceThread to organize and share learning either for the same reason. I guess this is inevitable.
The picture is of my classroom in the last half of the 1990s. Seeing my high school class recalled memories of the first half of my career as an English Language Arts and Social Studies teacher. I recall patiently painting the world map across the back of my room. It was awesome! We referenced it often and like so many other things I have tried, it was a success that I abandoned over time. There are so many reasons why this happens, but it leaves me sad none the less.
How disappointing, five of my fourth graders stayed after school hoping to Skype with their Australian and American global pen pals. After waiting patiently past the scheduled time, I sent my students home. Thirty minutes later I made a poor connection. All too often, my technology project fail. I try to keep my perspective. It is like playing a video game. You can win all the time if you stick to novice levels. If you tackle a higher level you risk failure. Confidentially, I do play the easy levels on my favourite games. I do not like getting crushed repeatedly. But I do like to progress, so eventually I try. I will tackle this sort of project again.
I wonder what everyone else’s experiences with connecting multiple classes on Skype.
Fridays my students try and share a bit about what they have been reading during the week. I need to organize this better. For example, they probably need to come to their impromptu groups prepared with some passage in their books that they thought was worth sharing.
My mother-in-law approaches ninety. I’ve seen her in the context of the last thirty-five years. Throughout those years she has been a widow stubbornly maintaining her presence on the family farm, and later, a grandmother living in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. My wife and I have embarked on a project to convey something of her life to her grandchildren. We have begun with her oldest photo albums. I want to move on to incorporate some of her personal narrative and (give me strength) some representation of her appallingly awful poetry. I forgive her that. I too have an overwhelming passion to write. I will self publish a few copies of the result.
She was a farm girl who loved the land and liked the lifestyle in principle, but not much in practice. I have listened to her story with half an ear, more absorbed in the trials of her present. The pictures in her albums are so illuminating. What a precious technology photography is. She went to Normal School in the 1940s and taught briefly until her marriage. She told me about the frustrations. Her pictures convey some of it. One picture shows a tiny isolated clap board teacherage she utterly hated. Others document the series of one room school houses. She taught for less than seven years. As was expected, she quit to raise her family. My grandmother returned to the classroom after raising my mother and uncles. My mother-in-law never did. I think she was proud to have been a teacher, but the work involved teaching multiple grades in the prairie isolation was too frustrating. You have to respect the women who did it.
She has many pictures of her classes. Not so many years teaching, such small groups, yet together they made a crowd. What happened to them all? Do any of them retain memories of the slender bookish woman who taught them briefly? I wonder about the host of students I have taught these last three decades. I have been turning my mind to them more lately. At one time I could have laid my hand on each of their names. I let that go some time ago. The lists went up in smoke. They only matter to me. I have a much larger collection on pictures documenting my years teaching. Even better than my mother-in-law’s pictures, my pictures capture so many fascinating people. I hope they found me as fascinating.
It’s been a while since I posted to my blog. I spent the evening sitting in my bedroom where it was nice and quiet, using Siri to record comments on report cards. After a while you get a little tired typing. I find there is a knack for capturing my working relationship with these young fourth-graders. They are all unique individuals. I guess we always say that about our students, and of course it’s always true. Articulating those unique qualities and recalling the experiences that helped me define those qualities is always difficult.
There is a phrase applied to the inconsistent learn on our schools rubric. “Sometimes I am interested in learning at school”. The reluctant learner it suggests, “I have very little interest in learning at school”. I have my moments when I think I’m brilliant, but seriously both of these comments have more to say about what I do in the classroom than what the student is motivated by. I think it would be fair to say that all of my fourth-graders have a passionate interest in learning. They are all simply caught in the educational machine.