Saturday, April 21, 2012
What a Crazy Week!
The past couple of weeks have been quite crazy for me as I try to do a whole bunch of different things at the same time as teaching and working closely with my UBC teacher candidate. I have been involved with planning two workshops for our district convention in early May (my first time putting presentations together for people I don't know or work with), attending a primary conference, visiting schools - learning and sharing with them around technology, writing my third blog post for the International Reading Association, preparing to share apps with the exciting new project I'm involved with my school district titled "Making Thinking Visible: A Collaborative Inquiry into Technology and Early Literacy", co-ordinating for our Flat Classroom global project, pulling together a very last minute technology grant application for my school, and now report card writing has been added to the mix. It's been a bit of a crazy couple of weeks and when I think about it most of this would not have been available to me last year because I wasn't such a tech nerd then. I've spent far too much time away from my students. But I'm not complaining because these have all been incredible opportunities for me and I feel extremely lucky to have them come my way. Okay maybe having report cards added to the pile wasn't all that lucky but it is what it is.
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to visit two schools in my school district. I spent the morning at Pacific Heights Elementary in South Surrey. They were chosen in the first round of Innovative Learning Design projects from our school district. I visited several classrooms and saw technology being used in many different ways. It was exciting to see another grade one class so comfortable using the tools they had available to them. I loved how their teacher used QR Codes to direct her students to photos she had taken. The QR codes meant the young students didn't have to type in long addresses to find the photos. Once the code was scanned the photos were easily downloaded to their iPads to be used with the app Book Creator. Her students were comfortable blogging (and went as far as to leave comments on my students blogs), using Book Creator, and Comic Life. It was great to talk to them about what they were doing, what they were learning, and how they liked working with the iPads. I also loved seeing their teacher record them read using an iPad.
In another class I saw a teacher using Edmodo with his students. The music teacher had her students create using Garage Band on the iPads. I saw one class teach another class how to use a new app on the iPads. Students in another classroom shared their incredible Bear project with me. It was good for me to see how the iPad cart was shared across the school and to hear about some of the issues associated with them. It was a good visit at Pacific Heights and I learned a lot. Hopefully they learned something new from me too.
In the afternoon I drove across town to Green Timbers. I spent the afternoon in Robyn Theissen's room. She, like me, is pretty new to most of this technology this year and she's been doing some incredible things with her grade three class. While visiting I was able to meet Mikayla the author of this incredible blog post. I also got to see several of Mrs. T's students' Prezis. Since I've never used Prezi myself (it tends to make me feel motion sick when I watch them) I loved being taught how to use it by a couple of her students. In addition some of her students shared with me their favourite iPod apps. Since I had my personal iPod with me (which my students use all the time in my room) I quickly added MiniPiano and Drums Light to the Fine Arts folder on the touch. What I loved about Mrs. T's room is that there was technology every where. Even though her school was not part of the innovation grant last year she has been very good at booking out the resources available from our school district. While I was visiting her students had access to laptops, iPods, and digital cameras. As you can imagine they were fully engaged with their technology.
Overall it was a great day (except of course the news about report card writing). I have one more day away from my students next week but then I think things will go back to normal for me. There is so much I want to get done for our Flat Classroom project. There are classes I want to meet and skype with, and there are more global connections for my students to make. It's going to be an exciting next couple of weeks.