Sunday, January 19, 2014

Here We Go! Now Where Do We Begin?

NASA, We Have Liftoff!  Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!  On Your Marks, Get Set, Go!

However you want to say it, we are in.  There is no turning back now!  Marshalltown Community School District has officially stepped into a new world in education with classroom sets of Chromebooks available for students in 3rd and 4th grade and in 7th -12th grade science classes. It is exciting knowing that we are starting down the road of 21st Century education and will have tools in our students hands to help us encourage collaboration, communication, creativity, and higher order thinking skills.  I cannot wait to see the great things happening in our classrooms.

Where do we begin?  I encourage our teachers to start small.  Our comfort levels are all different.  This is a new way of teaching for many of us, and it is a new of learning for many of our students.  It is okay to dip our toes in before we really take a dive, but don't worry - the water is warm.  No one is alone through this, and if something doesn't work just like we thought it would, it will be okay.  It's not the first time we've had one of those "not as we intended" lessons as teachers and it won't be our last.

Remember, we're doing what we already do everyday.  It all comes back to good teaching.  Think of the new access to a Chromebook as you would any other tool your students use in the classroom.

Start with thinking of ways to Substitute what you are doing in your room already, and look for some benefits you may gain.  Does it make something faster, easier to plan for, more engaging for students, or promote some peer collaboration?  You don't have to start out reinventing something new!

Take an exit ticket for example.  I've heard several teachers talk about how this would be a good first exposure for both them and their students.  I've made this help sheet to guide you along if you need it.  You might also want to check out this blog where Google Certified Teacher Melissa Murphy gives an example of an exit ticket, and promises to show a favorite Google form every day this week.  You can copy the form she shares and use it for yourself if you'd like. (After you click the link just go to File and Make a Copy.

Whatever you decide to do, remember we're in this together.  Don't be afraid to take some risks, try something new, and have some fun doing it.  Your students will appreciate the use of technology in your classroom and be eager for more!

Did you try to do this or something similar with your class?  Leave a comment and let us know how it went!