26 December 2011

Chapter 1: The day my teacher lost his mind

I had some zany teachers and some who really knew how to make you laugh. I had some who were phenomenal instructors and some who really knew how to inspire. But I never had a teacher like me. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong decade and other times I am glad I am teaching now. It is absolutely the most exciting time to be both a student and a teacher as new ideas and methods of instruction are constantly being invented. With that said I would like to present my latest entry into the book of crazy.

My current principal has a lot of potential as an administrator:  he is young, energetic, open to new ideas, willing to admit he doesn't know everything, and wants to do more.  He has budgeted for 60 ipads (plus carts) in next year's budget.  When he told me this I was excited for him on the outside, but cringed on the inside.  My district has had some turmoil in the past and that has caused many of the teachers to close their doors and just do their own thing.  While there is a lot of good things happening in the district, there is little effort to share and even more resistance to change.  Often, when schools make large technology purchases such as this, there are 2 outcomes: 1) everyone is super excited and fighting over who gets to use it first or 2) and far too often this is the case, the technology sits in a storage room collecting dust because no one knows how to use it properly.  I cringed because I was thinking of the SMART board that has been moved to science storage room because no one wants to take the time to use it.

There has been a lot of talk about ipads in education on #edchat.  All of these people would not be sharing resources and ideas if they didn't have some merit so I have been trying to follow along.  I have noticed some very interesting apps (doceri, screenchomp, educreations) that would make my life as a teacher easier and also some that would allow students to demonstrate their understanding of the material (voicethread, prezi).  Looking at all of this made me realize that I can talk about the benefits of the ipad all day, but if I don't have proof of how it can be used in my classroom right now, I will never convince my colleagues to use them.

Which brings me to the latest chapter in my book.  I cannot afford an ipad so I borrowed one.  For the entire month of January my students will be allowed to "rent" my ipad during class with the intention that they are using to demonstrate why these are important learning tools that should be in every class.  I say "rent" because they will be paying me in experiences (ok that sounded less corny in my head).  Every time they use the ipad they will be adding to a Google Doc about what they used, how they used it and what they learned from the experience.  This is going to make professional development on the devices so much easier as I will have the students' words to back up what I am saying.

I have no idea if this is going to work, but I have to try.  I am just too afraid of the 90s happening again, where schools dumped money into things that ended up being thrown out or sold because no one was using them.  My students have said they want more of this type of technology in the school.

Why not give it to them?