Its Sunday afternoon of Labor Day weekend and I can’t wait until Tuesday when we head back to school. I know this is the FIRST time this has ever happened to me! Normally, I’m sadden to see the official end of summer.
You might be wondering why I am so excited. Well, on Tuesday morning my students will pick up their laptops and Jonas Salk High-Tech Academy will become an Apple 1:1 school. For the past two weeks our on-site tech folks have been imaging student machines and even customizing them with name tags for each student. Meanwhile our students have been practicing carrying around their laptops by toting empty laptop sleeves from class to class. Its been an interesting experience so far and all of us are learning to be very flexible. For example, this school year we had to adjust the schedule so that every teacher saw their 7th period class at the begging and the end of the day to accommodate laptop pick ups and drop offs. Our kids won’t be taking home their Macbooks, yet. This may be something added in the future. Now, the day starts with “Hawk Time” which is really a 12 minute mini-period where my 7th period students watch Eye of the Hawk (our student-produced news show) and (starting next week) pick up their fully-charged laptop. During the day students will carry their computer from class to class and use them constantly. This has brought up an other issue – how do we keep them charged? We haven’t completely hammered out the solution yet, but in my classroom there is a drop down extension cord over every table since its a science room. I think we may leave them pulled down with magsafe adapters plugged in. That way students can charge up while they are in my class.
On the curriculum side I am in the midst of a major paradigm shift. Its scary and thrilling! I’m trying to move my class to a more project/activities-based format. Mondays will be the main direct instruction day with computer and traditional hands-on lab activities taking place Tuesday-Thursday and assessments on Friday. I plan to run everything through our class Moodle page and allow students choice in terms of which project they complete first. Each day students will arrive, log in, and complete their warm up using a Moodle quiz or Quia. On project days the information from the warm up will allow me to use targeted instruction with small groups or individuals who are struggling with content. As far as projects go, I’m giving everything a whirl. Kids will be blogging, working on multiple wikis, using Moodle discussion forums, creating movies, Keynotes, podcasts and Comic Life projects. This week I went to my new textbook adoption training and contrary to ones I have sat through in the past, this one was actually useful. Our new Glencoe textbook is chalk full of virtual labs, Brain Pop videos, webquests, digital vocabulary and review activities, and online quizzes. The other nice thing is that I can also pick up the online resources from the Glencoe science texts we didn’t adopt (for some reason their are multiple versions for California). I plan on incorporating many of these resources. Ironically, I plan on ditching the book itself during class time. It seems like a waste to have kids reading out loud or using paper workbooks when every single one of them has a Macbook sitting in their back pack. I guess its just another sign of the paradigm shift.
While I’m working on my lessons for next week I keep thinking how amazing it is that every school doesn’t have the tools my kids and I do. I finally feel like I am preparing students for the 21st century. Every single school should be doing the same. We really shouldn’t be the leaders we have become.