Saturday, October 15, 2011

One to One Reflection part 1

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm going to be reflecting on the first month of our one to one initiative. I'll be cross posting these reflections on the Ozzie Peeps part of the PLP wiki. This first one is going to be in two parts. Part one will be the nuts and bolts and how I feel those have gone thus far. Part two will discuss changes that I've made in the way I teach. Enough of my blathering, let's reflect!

I'm focusing this part of the reflection on the nuts and bolts of rolling out a lap top initiative. This means things like the parent meetings, storage cases, and the actual handing out of the lap tops.

The Good:
1) Identify lap tops: We decided to have the lap tops engraved with an id number, write the id number on the lap top and charger in Sharpie, and add a sticker with student identification on the bottom of the lap top. All of these work great. Students know the id number of their lap top and easily claim their charger if I find it laying around and call out the number. The most important item, the lap top, has the number for the kids to identify it but more importantly, I don't have to know each number because the students' names are on the bottom. This way if a lap top is left laying around I know who it belongs to.

2) The physical roll out itself: I was pleased at how well the roll out itself went. As we essentially had six classrooms having lap tops passed out, I think our idea to pass out only two classrooms worth a day was a great idea. This allowed plenty of time for students to get the lap tops, take them out of the boxes (I think its important that the kids get to actually "open" the lap top and take it out of the box as well. In my opinion this led to more ownership of the lap tops), attach their name stickers, and then play with them for a little.

3) The timing of kids bringing their lap tops home: I liked that students couldn't take their lap tops home right away. I think it was a good idea to have get to know the lap tops while at the same time allowing us to get to know the students. We were also able to instill some responsibility into the students about the lap tops. I think by not just letting the kids take them home, we were able to show them how important we though the lap tops were and for most kids this transferred to them.

4) The lap tops themselves: I couldn't be happier with the way the lap tops have worked. Students can access anything we have thrown at them so far (although we haven't done much video editing.) I'm also loving the idea to have them not connected to the network. The amount of time I wasted last year waiting for lap tops to boot up and then having some not do so was tremendous. None of that this year! Granted it is early, we really haven't had any issues with speed or battery power. I think it will be interesting to see how they are doing next year at this time.

The bad
1) The lap top cart: there really isn't much positive to say about the cart. Its too small. It doesn't have enough power slots. The lock doesn't work. I think the idea of a mobile cart is something we need to examine. We obviously had previously used mobile carts because we were actually moving them around the building. Now the lap tops are going to stay in one classroom to store and charge. A better idea would be to have some sort of shelf where all the lap tops could be stored. We could then have some power strips so we would have enough outlets for all of the lap tops to plug in. I think we need to examine the idea of locking up the lap tops. If they are in our classrooms and the door is locked, do they really need to be locked up as well?

2) The timing of the roll out: Personally, I'd like to see the students get the lap tops on the first day. I think we could use the first week as a boot camp where students learn about their computers and the programs we will use with them. Not having access to computers for that first week and a half was actually somewhat difficult and I can only imagine it will be more so for me next year after having almost a full year in this one to one program. I think we might want to look into a way to roll out the computers on day one next year.

The so/so
1) The parent meetings: I was very impressed that almost all the parents made it out to the pre-school meetings. I was also impressed to see most parents paid the self-insurance money right off. It seemed that many parents were on board with the whole idea. That being said, I'm not sure we really got across the whole idea of why we are doing this initiative. I don't think this is anyone's fault. I just don't know that we knew what to say as this was all brand new to us. I certainly think future pre-school parent meetings will present what we are doing in a better light.

2) All those forms: Obviously there are a lot of forms we are having parents fill out. There is the AUP, the lap top agreement, the google form asking if parents want the lap top to go home. I think its important for us to look at this and maybe consolidate all these into one form. I've mentioned this before, but I'd like to see these forms (especially the AUP) done in such a way that they encompasses the whole Middle School experience, i.e. parents sign them and they work for all three years. I'd like to see them passed out in the spring of fifth grade for parents to sign so that we can get rolling on day one. I also think by consolidating to one form, it will make it easier on us. I hate having to check all sorts of forms. It would be so much easier if all the information was contained on one Google Form.

3) The carry bags. I really like the bags. Once students got them it made things so much easier. Prior to getting the bags, we had a couple students drop their lap tops. Since we have had none of those problems. I also love that students can "personalize" their bags by adding stickers, etc. That being said, the bags could be a bit bigger. There is barely enough room to hold the computer, the charger, and a mouse. What if students had a microphone/headset too? What about other things students might need? The other problem I had with the carry bags is the timing of getting them. They need to come out at the same time as the computers. This would avoid those drops I previously mentioned.

4) The programs loaded on the computer: I'm happy with all the programs loaded onto the computers although I don't know that anyone is ever going to use the libre office suite if we also have Microsoft Office on the computers. I love that Google Earth and Sketchup are on the computer as kids are already playing with both programs and I haven't introduced either. I imagine in the long run these kids will easily know more tricks with both programs than I can show. I also love that both Firefox and Chrome are on the lap tops as some kids prefer one and some kids prefer the other, with both having some positives and negatives. I do think that this year, we will probably have some idea on some add ons that we will want to use with particular browsers and may want to add that to the image for next year. My biggest issue with a program missing is Smart Notebook. This program has so many possible uses for the kids and we have a district license so it makes sense to include it on the lap tops. More so, it is a tremendous pain to actually put on the lap tops. It took me a couple of days during enrichment to get it on my forty four students' lap tops.

Overall, even though it seems like I'm negative on some things, I'm really pleased about how the one to one initiative started. I think there are some areas we can improve and I think its important to have the discussion about how to do so. Once do that, we can focus all our attention on how the lap tops can change our teaching.

Now on to part 2: the first month of teaching, how the lap tops have changed my teaching

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