An Exciting Start to a New Year!

It’s been awhile! I have decided to repurpose this blog to be aimed at my students, their parents, and other teachers that are looking for ideas in a 1:1 environment. I have three major goals for this school year and I believe this blog will serve as a way to kill two birds with one stone.

My 2014-2015 Goals:

I just started my 5th year of teaching in Shakopee, MN. I teach at Pearson 6th Grade Center, a really great place to be. I teach two sections of Health (1st quarter) and Social Studies (2nd through 4th quarter). For the rest of the day, I serve as a district-wide Digital Learning Coach. Our job is to provide professional development for teachers, research new and exciting technologies, and help teachers incorporate these technologies into their curriculum so students can learn valuable skills that will be needed in the future.

We have had a very exciting week at Pearson this year. The first two days of the year were spent learning about me, our classroom, and meeting classmates. I can already tell that we have a lot of talents in the classroom that will help make class a fun place to be!

Wednesday and Thursday night of this past week, students attended our iPad Rollout. Students created an Apple ID and were given their brand new iPad mini. On Thursday, almost all my students had their iPad in class. By Friday, every student had it. In previous years, I have tried everything I could to get students to remember to bring a pencil to class. It never failed that one or two would forget. With iPads, I don’t foresee that tool being forgotten very often. It’s clear the students are very excited to use them! While there are still some hiccups with explaining to students what they can and cannot do, I think that things will smooth over in a week or two. 

On Thursday, students were signed into computers and then their Google Apps for Education account. This account will give students access to Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, and more. I plan to have students communicate using email, publish video projects to YouTube, and create and store their digital work in Google Drive. Students took notes on how they signed in so that they have this information for the future.

On Friday, I officially started treating class like a 1:1 (one iPad for each student) iPad classroom. While some students were unable to download apps because they didn’t have an Apple ID or they forgot their password, we were still able to vote on positive and negative classroom behaviors that we felt were important. Using goo.gl, I was able to create short links and QR codes so students could access a Google Form without me having to send them an email or type in a long URL address. It worked like a charm! No apps required! After we had a discussion about making our classroom a positive and fun place to be, students took a survey that included a number of questions about their learning style, their typical grades, technology questions, and more. Using the survey results, I plan to send an email to each student about what they wrote so we can connect better as partners in learning. I have a feeling that shy students may be more likely to share if it’s not a face-to-face interaction. It’s definitely an experiment!

Some other tools I plan to use until I know all students can download apps are:

Padlet, Socrative, Infuse Learning, Kahoot, Pear Deck, Every Slide, and Todays Meet.

For this next week, students will be starting D.A.R.E. on Monday. Every Monday we will be having Officer Jamie Pearson in to teach D.A.R.E., which includes topics such as drug use, bullying, making good decisions, and more. After Monday, we will be focusing on our first unit, Steps to Respect. We will start this unit practicing and building effective group work skills.

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