Saturday, September 27, 2008

What would you share with a guest at your school? Join me for a tour of Wells Junior High School!

What would you share with a guest at your school?

Last week I had two guests visit me at school. After we chatted a bit about our technology and our hurdles we still have to meet, they asked for a tour.

I was thrilled to show them the renovations that had been made at our once aging Junior High School building. That is really an impressive sight! Especially the 3rd floor library where you have Atlantic Ocean views. However, I also shared the natural things that are happening in our classrooms. They are so natural to me and to those in our school that I had lost sight of where we were in the whole scheme of "using technology and 21st Century Literacy Skills.

Our first stop was a visit to a classroom with a Smartboard projector system. It just so happened that the bulb had blown out and was set to be fixed later in the day. The teacher shared how the day before the lesson had happened with students locating European countries by using Smartboard software and that today they continued finding countries with pencil and paper. Great job with a backup plan, but I wonder if the students had a preference, or if the teacher had a preference?

Then we observed a student Skyping into his classroom from the first floor. He had broken his leg and was waiting for his hard cast to be applied before he resumed classes out in the mainstream. Our teachers were using Macbooks to stream their course content to the student who was using a Macbook on his end too. He did not miss one day of class due to this technology. How is this outstanding? Well, we have another student who is also Skyping into his classes and the preparations took over 3 months to make plans for, while this student's plan was almost immediate. Once the principal heard about the broken leg, he offered up that we could have classes streamed by Skyping the course work to the student. Since the process had been initiated, it was simple to replicate. There wasn't much preparation with classroom teachers, it was just an expectation, and it was done with great expertise.

Then we visited a language arts classroom, where the teacher talked about how we had blogged with 116 students the previous year. This year we were going to begin that project in the fall rather than waiting for spring. A natural progression.

Our last stop was to check in on the physical education class. The students were in small groups and participating in a fitness routine on their Wii. What a great way to use the technology in a way that students will use outside of school too.

What kinds of things are naturally happening in your schools? What kinds of things can you envision happening in your schools? Just a little planning will make some small things happen, those seemingly small things will have a much bigger impact once you and your school begin the journey into the 21st Century.

Thanks to the great folks I work with at Wells Junior High School, you are making a huge difference in your students' lives.

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