Being absent in a 1:1 classroom

The week after our full day of professional development, I was out for 2 days. It seems like I’ve been out a lot lately 😦 (2 days for international job fair, 1 day for PD, these 2 days…). Usually it seems nothing productive gets done when I’m not physically in the classroom, especially because the students are supposed to be learning French. I usually have them do independent work, partner work, speaking exercises and watch movies. [Luckily my content tends quite well to movies! My students really enjoyed Asterix & Obelix and we were able to have some great discussion about White Material during Black History Month.This time I decided to experiment with having my students use the Chromebooks while I was gone.

Students’ homework was to bring their headphones to class with them. I also explained to each class that they would be using the Chromebooks and I would be giving them more responsibility than I’d ever given other groups of students. I told them to make me proud and that I looked forward to bragging about them when I came back. I stayed completely positive and emphasized how much responsibility they were going to be given.

I was fortunate enough to be able to speak with the sub the day before I was absent. This made me feel so much better since I was leaving her with so much responsibility! Here is an excerpt from the letter I left my sub…

Students will be using Chromebooks today and tomorrow. Ms. Smith will come open the Chromebook cart. I have written the number they will be using on the roster next to their names (in yellow). I have also noted if they have turned in their user agreement (in orange). Please collect (and record) any missing agreements and encourage them to turn them in ASAP (there are extra copies). Each student will have a task list/assignment sheet in his/her email. The two allowed sites are their google mail/docs & my.hrw.com (I have printed out their usernames & passwords in case they forgot). They should ask you if they need to go to any other sites.

Class Agenda:
1. Get Chromebooks. Log in to their email. Open the file I’ve shared with them (assignment sheet). Do as much work as possible.
2. Put Chromebooks away correctly (do not plug in).
3. Please remind them to send me an email. They should tell me a) how much work they got done, b) how hard they worked and c) questions they have.

I made assignment documents for each of my classes (French 2 block & French 2 year long). About 30 minutes before their class period, I shared each document with them.

The biggest differences between being absent in the past and being absent this time were that I was able to see their work (in real time) and that I was able to communicate with them. At the end of the class period, students emailed me their progress. The evening of day 1, I read all the emails and emailed back any of my students who had questions. I LOVED how this worked and I am so excited to now be able to brag about my students! Our high school sometimes gets a bad rap but I always love to tell people how wonderful my students are. We have a great relationship (one of the most important classroom management strategies I’ve learned in 2.5 years) and they are (usually) wonderful 🙂

Let’s take a step back

So I’ve talked a lot about our district going 1:1 but I haven’t given many details. Implementing 1:1 in a district of 25,000 students and 30+ schools is a big undertaking! So here are some of the logistics…

*all schools are site-based. So the district office gives recommendations, but the schools (principals) have the final say. This applies to devices chosen, professional development, discipline policies, etc.

*K-2 will NOT be going 1:1, grades 3-8 will be going 1:1 by grade level and high school will be going by thirds

*Phase 1 (February 2012) – grades 5, 6 and 1/3 of each high school (based on student population, ~26 teachers at my school). Phase 2 (August 2012) – grades 4, 7 and next 1/3 of HS. Phase 3 (TBD 2013) – grades 3, 8 and last 1/3 of HS. At this point high schools MAY allow devices to go home instead of classroom sets.

*all high schools & elementaries chose Google Chromebooks, middle schools have chosen a variety of devices (iPad, Android tablet, Chromebooks)

*all high schools & elementaries have carts for 1:1 teachers with class sets, middle schools are doing homeroom models and also allowing students to take devices home

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*Before we ever saw our Chromebooks, our Integration Technology Specialist (ITS) (Tami) had her work cut out for her! She received over 700 Chromebooks. Each one was assigned to a class set (district asset & serial numbers were recorded), set up to the network (we have a special Chrome wireless network), labeled and inserted into a cart.

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*Tami created (and shared) a google document with all of this information so that we (teachers) could assign Chromebooks to students (my students use the same CB every day). The original spreadsheet includes information for all teachers.

*Tami started holding professional development for the 1:1 teachers at my HS in late fall. We received our locked carts in nid-February. We were required to attend a full day of PD on March 1st to obtain the code to unlock our carts. Unfortunately we didn’t get to all of the following agenda (everything took much longer than anticipated!). I helped present the session on “Unlocking the Chromebook Power” using an adapted version of my SCLFTA presentation.

*The morning was spent determining which CB numbers (1-27 for my cart) matched the asset tag info that Tami collected (see above spreadsheeet). I exported rosters from my PowerSchool gradebook then copied and pasted my students names and ID numbers into a Google spreadsheet for each class. I then assigned each student to a number (alphabetical order) and converted their ID numbers to email addresses.

*This full day of PD was priceless because we were given useful information and the TIME to do things that we needed to do. I adapted my rules presentation (from Tami) and my user agreement.

*Among other information, we also viewed and discussed the discipline policy. As we go 1:1, I think it is extremely important to have consistent consequences and hold students accountable. Below is an example from another high school in our district.

Whew that was a mouthful! But implementing 1:1 on this scale (or anywhere) is such a huge undertaking 🙂

The first days of 1:1

On Friday, March 2, I rolled out Chromebooks in my classroom. I introduced them using this presentation (adapted from my Integration Technology Specialist – ITS):

And this video (which my students found both educational and funny 🙂 ):

I rearranged my classroom into groups of desks.

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Before I made a seating chart, I got some input from the students.

We then spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday slowly integrating the Chromebooks into our classroom. Another idea that I stole (and adapted) from Tami (my ITS), was the idea of a Google Race. I shared this document with my students and set them to work.

You can adapt this idea for any content area! I was able to not only have my students practice with Google Docs but also the French concepts we’ve been learning. Sylvia Duckworth has created an updated version of this race. Check it out!

I’ll be back soon with info about what it was like being absent for the first time in a 1:1 classroom.

#google #chromebooks debut tomorrow!

Time flies so fast! I can’t believe it’s already been so long since I last did a real post. We were lucky enough to have a mid-winter break last week. Probably the most amazing invention ever. Christmas break to Spring break always seems sooo long and drags on forever. Having a week off in February was beneficial for everyone involved (in my humble opinion). My husband and I travelled to San Francisco for a little work & play.

This week, I’ve been getting back in the hang of things AND getting ready for my classes to go 1TWO1 with Google Chromebooks. I’ve had a cart with 27 beauties sitting in my classroom for a couple weeks, but I didn’t have the combination to the lock 😦 Today I spent the entire day in professional development with the rest of the teachers in phase 1 getting ready to roll out the Chromebooks. I’m excited to have access to another digital tool! But I do want to make it clear that just because I have them, doesn’t mean we’ll be using them everyday all the time. They will just be another tool in our box in my classroom.

I got a lot of thinking and planning and learning time today, but I still have lots to contemplate. The desks in my room probably aren’t ideal for 1:1. I don’t really have any idea what I’m going to do. I want an arrangement that is flexible (not ONLY for tech) but also allows me to keep an eye on what my students are doing. Tomorrow I think I’m going to introduce the Chromebooks & Google OS, talk about proper behavior and have the students do a scavenger hunt in Google Docs.

This is exciting, but overwhelming at the same time! I’ve been teaching for 2.5 years and I’ve incorporated a lot of technology in my classroom. But being 1:1 involves a complete mind shift. I want to put the technology to it’s BEST use and not use it as another (online) worksheet for my students to do. I want to be at redefinition in all my lessons! But I know it’s a slow process and I need to remember that 🙂 It’s time for me to get out of my comfort zone and spend time figuring out what my classroom & lessons will look like. My goal is to have my students producing great work that they are proud of (and I’m proud to show off) while actually learning and understanding French language (and culture). That’s not too much…right?

1:1 in January w/ #Chromebook

Richland 2 will be rolling out our 1:1 initiative in January (also known as 1 TWO 1). By August 2013 all 25,000 students in our district will have a device (well except grades K-2). Muller Road Middle School opened up this year and gave each student an iPad (you can read about the implementation here). Blythewood Middle gave each student an android tablet last week. In January, 1/3 of teachers at each of the 4 high schools will receive Google Chromebook carts for their rooms. We were selected through an application process. Yes we 🙂 Sometime in January I will have the awesome opportunity to take my classes 1:1. This is definitely going to be a steep learning curve for a lot of people, including me. I hope that my experience with the iPods and iPads will make the transition easier for me. But there is SO much to think about! I’m an over-achiever and perfectionist…I want lessons that will engage my students meaningfully. I want them to learn A LOT. I want them to be able to communicate with people around the world and see the value in learning another language. And I want to do all of this right away at the Redefinition level. Is all that possible without going crazy? We shall see!