Sunday, July 20, 2014

Google Apps for Education

With the roll out of the 1:1 implementation, I was thrilled to find out we would be using Google Apps for Education (GAFE). I had been using Google Docs, personally, for several years now and had even used it for my school work as well.
My students and I worked through GAFE together as we brainstormed ideas on how to use it in the classroom and how to increase collaboration.  The 'Share' button became my students best friend! For those of you unfamiliar with GAFE, the 'Share' button allows you to share that document with another person and they can work on the document at the same time as you. It's great for collaboration!

It was hysterical when I first started quick reading their essays during class. I would pop into one students writing while they were working on it (They were all required to share their work with me). The entire group that person was in would fall silent and stare at that one computer screen as I made a few quick comments on the paper. I would here "Miss Camp's posting on my document" in whispers across the room as I hopped from essay to essay.
Here are a couple of things we did using GAFE:



Amazingly, my Special Angles Artwork project was featured over at Alice Keeler's blog here:
Math: Creating Angles in Google Drawing
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Saturday, July 19, 2014

1:1 Implementation - What I Learned From Piloting 1:1 Midyear

At first I was debating if I should do a series of post or one long post. I decided on the latter because I have so much to blog about with planning for the upcoming school year! So here we go!

This is a post that will show you how I implemented 1:1 laptops in my classroom beginning this past March and talk to you about what I learned. I will then post a series about different activities we used the laptops for and the successes and failures of the activities.

My district chose to go 1:1 using Acer laptops running the Ubermix 2.0 system. This was all new to me. The most I had were small group sets of iPads, Nook Tablets, and laptops. I had started a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program, so my classroom had been a almost 1:1.

My kids were ecstatic when I told them we had been selected to pilot the 1:1 program for the district. I explained how we would have to work together through this and keep notes of difficulties, successes, and failures. From Day 1 I heavily involved my students in this process.


Our awesome tech guy, Mr. Grumbles, came out and went over some guidelines for using the laptops and how to treat them. Then... the students had time on their own to check out the devices. This was fantastic because it gave them that Christmas morning feel and allowed them to explore and take some of the curiosity out of it so during class they weren't dying to play with it.


It took only one minute and word spread. With the students helping and teaching each other, soon the entire class had all changed the backgrounds on their laptops. They were beginning to customize their settings too. At one point a student asked us a question and we both froze. We were the teachers, shouldn't we know how to answer it? The truth was we were both unfamiliar with this system as well. Finally we told the student to look up their answer because we didn't know.

I posted 'Parking Lots' up around the room where the students could use post-its to post questions, problems, shortcuts, or great programs or websites they found.  We then worked together to come up with new procedures for our class. My students would ask me specific questions like, "What do we do with the laptops during Book Clubs?" I told them this was my first time with 1:1 so we were going to have to figure out together what to do during Book Clubs.

 
We received a charging cart for the laptops and, being the organizational freak I am, numbered all of the cords and numbered all of the laptops. This way the laptop number corresponded with my students' class number. I could hold the students more accountable for their laptop. There were consequences for students not following directions or if their laptop battery died. If a students laptop battery died during use they then had to take out the paper copies of what we were working on and complete their assignment using pencil and paper. This really encouraged students to check their cord when it was plugged into the cart. The students were the ones who helped me come up with the consequences for misbehaving and not taking care of the laptops. I actually had to reign them back in and scale down their punishments. 

 


When I started this venture I had posted online that I was looking for free, web-based programs that would work well with 1:1. I was overwhelmed with the response I received. Looking at all the recommendations I knew there was no way I was going to be able to go through all the websites. I took the websites back to class and paired my students up. I assigned each pair a website to evaluate, which is a Common Core Standard, and it was up to them to present it to the class. The students had to answer questions I gave them that included what they thought about the website and how they saw us using the websites in class.

My students did a fantastic job and we started using many of the websites in class based on their recommendations! The journey did not end there as the students began to discover other sites and would present them to me as well.

I have always been the super structured teacher, with the students quiet when they worked unless I gave them permission to chat. Over the past couple of years I have changed drastically. Taking on the 1:1 flipped my classroom on it's head! My room was no longer quiet when the students were working, they were collaborating, sitting where ever they were comfortable, and working together! I was amazed at the work I was receiving.  

Here are some pictures of my NEW collaborative classroom: 
Overall here is what I learned from this experience: 

1. Involve your students!
2. Be honest with them if you don't know something.
3. It's okay not to know everything and to learn with your students.
4. Give your students some time on their own to explore the device.
I hope this helps anyone who will be starting next school year with 1:1. Best wishes! :)
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Monday, July 14, 2014

Beginning 1:1 - Starting the New School Year

I am sitting here trying to prepare for the new school year, which begins on August 18th for me.  Last year, I piloted 1:1 laptops for the district beginning in March so you would think I would be better prepared to start the year out with 1:1 right? Wrong!  
I am looking over my first day presentation and am realizing all the changes I need to make to include my rules and procedures with the laptops. I am thinking about how I am going to introduce them on the first day and how much the kids are going to get to use them. It is so overwhelming! The difference is last year I began 1:1 with students whom I had gotten to know over the course of three quarters of school, some of them I had even had in my class the year before. So I knew my kids pretty well and what to expect out of them. This year I am getting a brand new class with students who I have never met in a classroom setting, so I have no clue what to expect!  All I know is that I will be allowing the students to use the laptops on the first day. The entire school knows I have them, so why not jump in? The kids will be expecting it.
I have always been a planner, but I feel like this just needs to be a little less planned than normal and to be quite honest, that drives me crazy. Before I can plan any technology based projects, assignments, or anything I need to know where my students stand with it. It's the same idea with anything, you are going to gauge your students abilities before you jump in to something with them. So here I go... jumping in again. :)
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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Never, Ever Give Up!

Back in February I was asked to implement 1:1 laptops in my classroom as part of a pilot program. I was told that there were only 2 classrooms in the entire district piloting this, myself and a junior high class.  My heart fluttered and I thought it was going to explode in excitement. With no hesitation I agreed. This turned out to be a life changing decision.

From March until the end of school in May, I had teachers, administrators, and district office staff (including the superintendent) coming through my classroom to see what was going on.  There was a lot of hype about my class and about what my kids and I were doing in it with the laptops and projects the kids were working on. My kids were amazing during all of this and rocked it like champs! They answered questions so well that it blew me away.  At the end of the year, I thanked my students for all of their cooperation and hard-work with this implementation. It was because of them that people around the district and in the district office now knew my name. It was because of them our class became famous in the district.

I have never been the type of person to 'show-off' or promote myself in anyway. Even now when I receive compliments, I smile and get very embarrassed but graciously thank them. I take everything to heart, but I do not let it go to my head. I work my tail off and make my classroom and the learning as exciting as possible. I am always looking at the next thing to do and what I can always change.I push the limits with my teaching and the projects I do (especially with materials I have received from DonorsChoose).

For so long I was frustrated because I was passed over on opportunities, or it was the same person who did it every year and it didn't change. I knew no one outside of my school site and had not grown up in the district as many of my coworkers, had so I felt at a disadvantage since I could not network with as many people as others could.

Finally a couple of years ago, I took a position as a Model Technology Teacher. I helped with software and hardware issues, troubleshooted what I could, and did trainings on new programs that were coming out. Of course I didn't just stay with that, I kept exploring new avenues and finding new technology and programs to use in the classroom. Finally, I began to shine and slowly... ever so slowly people began to take notice.

I will be beginning my 9th year of teaching this year and will be starting it in a whole new fashion. I will be starting this coming year as a teacher, but also someone who the district office knows (the superintendent knows me! Crazy right?!), someone who was qualified to apply for a job at the district level (I didn't get it though because God has other plans for me right now. :) ), someone who will continue to teach other teachers at a higher level with integrating technology in the classroom, and someone who people are coming to for help with technology, projects, lessons, and classroom management ideas. I am blown away and overwhelmed with joy at everything that has transpired in these past 4 months.

I know there are more people out there just like me. People who work their tails off and go unnoticed for all the amazing things they do. People who, once they find their niche, will take off and shine!  My message to you is to keep doing what you're doing. Keep pushing yourselves to the next level and moving on. No matter how hard, frustrating, or how many tears you cry... keep going! You can get there. It took me 8 years and I am not done yet! I am planning to keep growing. My next step is to become a Google Certified Educator. :)

My favorite quote is from U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill:
"Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up."

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Under Construction

Happy Sunday!

It is quite obvious that there have been a lot of changes going on with the blog. Yesterday my amazing friend, Kristen, over at Teaching In A Nutshell took over my blog and began the redesigning process. During all of the construction my blog will remain fully functional and I will still continue to update it regularly.  The main design is completed and so now you will be seeing the template getting spiced up with design.

I totally forgot to take before pictures, but I did find what my old banner looks like so you can make some type of comparison.

Before:

After:

This new design reflects my personality so much more than the old one! I love the colors and the design of the banner; it's so much brighter and more cheerful!  I am so excited to see what else she comes up with. :)  Be sure to stop by her super cute blog and show her some love too at Teaching In A Nutshell

Luv ya!
*~Sarah~*

Thursday, June 12, 2014

1:1 Implementation Preview - Before & After

Back in March, I was extremely fortunate to be asked by the district technology guy to pilot a 1:1 laptop implementation.

Before I get into more details about the 1:1 implementation let me give you a bit of background about myself and my experience with technology.

Before:

My classroom management was typically very structured. I liked my kids to stay in their seats, work quietly, and whisper if they were working in a group or with a partner. My room was anything always very quiet. Every now and again we would play a game or do something exciting and the class would get louder. My students always had a seating chart that was set up by me and they had to stay that way. I had desks that were either in pairs or small groups. This all changed when technology began to come into my classroom!

Before this implementation my experience with tech includes a small group set of laptops, iPads, and Nook Tablets as well as some other exciting things like a 3D Makerbot printer. At the beginning of this past year, I implemented a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) which was very successful and got me one step closer to 1:1.

 After: 



Now my class is noisy with amazing collaboration between the students going on. My students do not have assigned seating but I keep mixing them up with other requirements so they do not get too comfortable with their groups. One day I may put on the board "Sit with 2 people you have not worked with before", this way it keeps my students mingling. Instead of desks I have had tables for 2 years now. I requested them from my principal the year before when I was starting to get more technology and doing more group work. My students are no longer confined to their seats and are able to get up and move to work where ever they feel comfortable.

People now walk into my classroom and see organized chaos. I still have my structure but I am a lot more flexible when it comes to projects, collaborating, and having fun. The work my students have been turning in is far better than any work I have received before and I owe it to their collaboration. Allowing the students to collaborate has helped me out tremendously so I am now only answering authentic questions, not "What are we supposed to do?" because my students put a stop to that for me.

My classroom projects have become a lot more hands-on especially with the 1:1 implementation. The resources are endless having the internet at their fingertips!

This is just a preview of my blog series that I am working on. Part one will be coming out soon and will be telling you about the first day we received the 1:1 laptops and the overwhelming, crazy, and exciting emotional roller coaster I was on as an educator.

Thanks for stopping by and reading!


Luv ya!
*~Sarah~*

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Working on it Wednesday

http://kindergals.blogspot.com/
I have decided that I am going to follow through 100% with this blog! I am dedicated to it and have a partner to help keep me on top of things!

This is my first "Working On It!" Wednesday with the Kindergals and I am very excited about it.

I am working on my blog and getting it up and running again. This past year I had the privilege to a pilot 1:1 laptop implementation for my district and I know that a lot of people are interested and could possibly benefit from what I went through and faced during it. I will also be working with the 4th grade teachers at my school site as the technology teacher there to help them implement 1:1 laptops, meanwhile I'll be able to begin the year with them!

This summer is going to be a different type of preparation for school than I've worked on before. I am focusing on Project Based Learning as well as going full throttle into the Common Core ELA and Math standards.  My district just adopted Hought-Mifflin's GO! Math series, so there is also that on my plate. I will have PLENTY of Working On It Wednesdays throughout the summer.

Thank you so much for stopping by and keep checking in for my posts on 1:1 laptop implementation, Project Based Learning, my own personal blog posts about writing and photography, and so much more!

Luv ya!
*~Sarah~*

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