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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Trying Something New

This was a crazy day!  It all started in our computer lab where I met my friend, Laura, who is a third grade teacher, and her class.  Picture forty-eight second and third graders crammed into a computer lab that only has 32 computers.  Laura and I had attended our first EdCamp last Saturday.  We attended three really exciting sessions with other teachers in our district.  One of the sessions we went to was on how to use Google Docs with our students.  We were eager to try it this morning.  I was scheduled for the lab this morning from 8:30-9:00.  Laura was scheduled to go at 9:00-9:30.  We thought it would be great to go together to the lab and we would get a full hour.  We wanted to see if our students could get into Google Docs and create a document.

At our session, we learned how to create a folder and share the link for that folder with students so they could access it from any computer or device.  Laura placed her link on her secure classroom website.  I placed it on my learning management system called Learning Point.  We decided that the third graders would try first.  The second graders would stand behind them and observe.  Then we would switch.  That’s when Laura realized that her website needed usernames and passwords and only a few of the students knew their secure login.  We tried to get the students into the Google Docs folder she created by typing the direct link.  That also did not work.  It was very frustrating.  Keep in mind, we do not have a computer resource aide or teacher in the lab.  We have to direct everything.

By this time it was 9:00, so I asked Laura if I could try.  We asked her students not to log-off the computers.  My students opened up Learning Point and logged in using their usernames and passwords.  They clicked on my Google Docs link and were taken to my folder.  This time, I wanted the students to upload a document we had been working on in Microsoft Word.  When we went to upload, we realized that the document folder that opened up belonged to the third grader who had initially logged in to that computer.  Ugh.  That meant my students had to log off the computer and log in as themselves.  Then, we had to go through the whole process of uploading again.  Only this time, when the students clicked on their document to upload, nothing happened.  It was frustrating.  One of my students tried to upload a photo to the file and that worked.  When he tried to upload his document after that, he was able to do it.  So, I asked all the students to go through that same procedure.  Everyone was able to do it, and everyone uploaded their document.  I am sure someone out there will tell me there is an easier way.  Maybe someone will tell me why we couldn’t upload our documents in the first place.  Was there a button I was supposed to click on my end?  I would really like to know how I could make this easier and stream line the whole process.

How could something so easy be so difficult.  My friend, Laura, said this was why teachers would not want to do this.  It’s too hard.  It’s not easy.  However, I think it will be easier now.  My students know how to access.  They know how to upload.  I thought this whole activity was a failure, but now I am rethinking that.  It’s not a failure because everyone was able to download their document.  It took us a little while, but we got it.  The next time we need to access Google Docs, it will be a piece of cake.  In fact, we are going to try tomorrow.  I have an opportunity to go into the lab.  Wish us luck!  🙂