Computer Lab Success!

This post is a continuation of yesterday’s computer lab fiasco.  I have to say that today went much better.  We actually got a lot done.  I found that front loading my students before we actually went into the lab helped.  Today, I shared two new resource tools with my students.  The first was Worldbook online.  This is an online encyclopedia.  My students are doing animal reports, so I showed them how to search for information.  Students were able to print up the information in the lab.  The second tool I shared with my students is how to access the school’s card catalog.  I had my students search for books related to their animal.  They wrote down the title, author, and call number.  I am going to give the information to the librarian, and hopefully, she can pull the books ahead of time for me.  Finally, I asked my students to access the Google Docs folder that I created.  Then, they created a new document.  It was successful.  In fact, at one point in the morning, my friend, Laura, asked if she could borrow a few of my tech experts to go to the computer lab and help her third graders.  This is what it is all about.  Students teaching students.  After school, Laura and I got together to manage her Google Docs files.  We are both truly learning about this application, and we are supporting each other the whole way.  It is a great parallel.  Students helping students, and teachers helping teachers.

The sad part is that after spring break the computer lab will be closed for the rest of the year due to testing.  The 3rd through 5th graders have to take the SBAC.  At the conclusion of this test, we are scheduled to take the MAPS test.  The lab will be reopen in June, the week before school gets out.  Since my school does not have iPad or Chromebook carts, we will not get to continue typing our reports.  I have got to get creative.  I might activate a Bring Your Own Devce (BYOD) policy every day.  I had only been allowing devices on Friday, but that may have to change.  That way, my students can work on their reports in class.

We shall see what happens.  For now, I am pleased with my students’ progress.  I am equally pleased with my progress.  My friend, Kim, commented that it was good for students to see their teachers struggle and to figure things out.  I have to agree.  That is how the learning happens.  Laura and I both said that we will be more prepared next year when we attempt this.  The key is being okay with the chaos in the beginning.  I am learning that after the chaos comes the calm.

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Celebrating National Day on Writing with Students

As I posted yesterday, National Day on Writing was on Sunday, October 20th.  I decided to celebrate with my students today.  We spent the majority of our morning writing.  We started off the day in the computer lab writing stories.

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When we returned to the classroom, we compared upstanders to bystanders.  Earlier in the year, I had read the book, The Recess Queen, by Alexis O’Neill.  My students were able to understand the difference between upstanders and bystanders.  So, I read the book, The Juice Box Bully, by Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy.  It’s a great story about how students help a new student acclimate to the class.  They all make a promise to be helpful and respectful even when someone is making poor choices.  My students wrote letters to the bully of the story giving him tips and advice on how to make the correct choices.  I was happy that my writing was also tied in to our Red Ribbon Week celebration.  During Red Ribbon Week we focus on having good character.  Here’s a picture of my students writing their letters.

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Finally, my students participated in a chalk talk protocol.  It’s funny because we don’t use chalk and we don’t talk during this activity. Earlier in the day, I had a parent helper hang up ten pieces of chart paper that had a problem in the middle of it.

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My students were able to write solutions to the problems on the chart paper.  They were also able to comment on other students’ comments.  My students completed this activity without any talking.  We definitely used writing to connect with each other.  After the activity, I debriefed with my students.  They said they enjoyed this protocol.  Everyone had a chance to share their ideas in a nonthreatening way.  I will definitely do this activity again.

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All in all I would say this was a very enjoyable National Day on Writing.  I can’t wait for next year!  However, I am going to remember to write to connect all year long.  🙂