Oh no nothing works! I can’t connect to my projector, my blog is not online, parent emails are not in the system. These are the things I usually here as a tech coach at the start of the year. They are, of course, valid. We have to get all the tech issues out of the way so we can actually start to do some great things.
I think, therefore, we should rephrase this question to be “Things to think about in the second month of school” when all of the tech is up and running well. Plus beginning of the year routines are now flowing and moving.
Ok, all that stuff is out of the way, what to think about. I say think about setting two digital infusion goals for the first semester between now and Winter break. I fully support pulling in the SAMR model to help. How can you substitute, augment, modify and/or redefine how you use technology in the classroom? Pick a couple of units and tackle them with that thought in mind. Pull in your technology and/or learning coach to support you in the process.
Next up, or maybe you should do this first, set a mission for the year or semester. One might be “Communication with students and parents will be streamlined.” Then you have a goal to work around and keep you on track. Taking on that specific goal would mean setting up systems to make your communication to parents both better for them and easier for you!
- Setting up a Flickr account where you can just snap photos on your phone and they will auto post for you.
- Having a WordPress site where you can post your weekly newsletters and parents auto receive them.
- Creating a social bookmarking/link setup such as Listly, Delicious, Flipboard or Diigo to enable you to recommend sites to parents or students at the touch of a button.
All of the above take some time to set up, especially if it is new to you. Again, call in that tech coach and put them to work! We are setup to help you. Or should be…
The greater point I am trying to communicate here is that having a mission or goal will really help you take on these tasks in chunks and to plan out time for them. Otherwise it becomes one more thing that takes you away from other things, like teaching, that need immediate attention.
I find that the start of the new year is the best time to implement change, be it curricular, routines, or pedagogical practice. Starting new saves me the hassle of wrestling with the legacy issues involved in modifying mid-year. So, if I flip I start the year with it. If I collaborate with kids through our LMS again, I start at the beginning of the year. Basically I want what is new for me to simple be the “normal” thing for the kids.
As a techie person, I also introduce new resources at the beginning if I can, and do so by presenting choices for my students. 2015-16 is a good example of how I do things, given that the College Board has rewritten the curricular outline for the course for the first time in fifty years. Starting in this year there is a greater emphasis on historical thinking skills than there had been in the past. The outline now explicitly states the people, movements, and events that kids need to recall when applying those skills on the AP Euro test. So I presented my students with three choices when deciding how we would build a study aid of the people, movements, and events. I modeled a flashcard builder, a trading card builder, and a timeline app. In the end the kids chose the timeline app. All three methods are efficient and effective, but the students had the final say on which tech we will use. now, Everyone is happy.
So, to recap, the start of the year is the best time to institute changes. Students are most accepting at that moment because, for them, there is no legacy system to unlearn. Apply all of those cool ideas that have been building in your brain since last October!