I started this school year unsure about the state of the technology in room 17. Over the years I’ve used Donors Choose and grants to slowly grow my classroom technology from almost nothing to a decent set of thirteen mismatched laptops and two school-given iPads. Fifteen pieces of technology is nothing to sneeze at, but last year my class topped out at 37 students. Spend a second on that math and you’ll find that I wasn’t even at 2:1. Necessity is the mother of invention and this lack forced my student teacher and I to get creative and find ways to engage all the students and give them equal access to the technology on hand. Still, there’s a huge gulf between using technology yourself and being in a group helping someone else use it.
I spent parts of the first few teacher set-up days bothering the wonderful ladies who run our school via the office for information about my computers. I wanted them back from the tech department, where they’d been stored all summer, as soon as possible. I have plans for those things, and I know how fast things (don’t) move in a school district, so I generally made myself a pain.
Then one afternoon right before I packed up to head home and collapse on the couch, someone rolled a beautiful white rectangular prism into my room, parked it, and left. Channeling Jack Skellington, I danced about singing, “What’s this? What’s this?” My principal had gone for the day. I would have to wait.
The next day she came to me to explain. “We were supposed to get three carts with the new district-wide grant, but instead they gave us four. Because I know the fifth grade team has been asking, and I trust that you’ll use them, I decided to park a cart in each of your rooms, leave 33 laptops in each, and take the rest plus any other technology that was turned in last year and cascade that down through the rest of the grade levels. How does that sound?” I could have hugged her. But I didn’t, because I’m supposed to be a professional. Instead I took pictures like this:
Of course, now the adventure truly is beginning. My principal has granted our team our fondest wish (or second fondest wish, with the first being, “Could we please maybe have less that 30 students per room?”), and now it’s on us to put up. We’ve already excitedly huddled a few times, looking at the brand new math curriculum, the old reading curriculum, and all the project-based learning stuff we love to do, and we started plotting out a plan. Classrooms are being built, rosters input, and hands rubbed gleefully together while not* cackling in a manner more suited to a mad scientist.
This post will act as the first of a regular series of reflections on the real-life implementation, struggles, and successes of going 1:1 for the first time. Think of it as a journal/instructional guide/what-not-to-do series from the perspective of a classroom teacher in a room full of kids. One of my greatest joys as a teacher is finding ways to use new tools to best suit my students, and I’m looking forward to all the experimenting to come, especially when it comes to combining my love for building with cardboard with my love of the digital.
The kids start next week. Let the journey begin!
Doug Robertson is the CUE Blog Editor and a twelfth-year teacher currently talking at fifth graders in Northern Oregon. He’s taught in California, Hawaii, and Oregon in 3rd, 4th, and 6th grades. He’s the author of three books about education,He’s the Weird Teacher ,THE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome), and the upcoming A Classroom Of One, one novel, The Unforgiving Road, and is an active blogger. Doug speaks at teaching conferences including CUE Rock Star Teacher Camps, presenting on everything from technology to teaching philosophy (or teaching The Weird Way, to use his words). Doug is also the creator and moderator of #WeirdEd on Twitter, which happens every Wednesday at 7pm PST.