Sunday, October 25, 2009

Moving Forward : 1:1 with Netbooks

Moving Forward : 1:1 with Netbooks

Tenacity and flexibility have been important character traits for us during the roll out of our 1:1 program. Last year in a discussion on 1:1 implementation at EduBloggerCon, just before NECC, someone asked how you know you are ready to move forward. It was an interesting question because those of us who were going 1:1 were in varying places with our infrastructure, teacher tech skills and funding. Though our answer may not have been satisfying the consensus was that it had to do with building a vision and a willingness to be risk takers. We all agreed that there comes a point when you need to move forward and be willing to deal with the messiness that is inherent in change.

We were scheduled to start our 1:1 program on August 26.the first day of school this year. We spent time in the summer working to prepare, discussing a move toward a textbook free environment, and curricular planning. But alas, on August 21 all of our brand new, imaged netbooks were stolen. It has been a rocky road but on Tuesday October 13 all of the 6th, 7th and 8th grade students got their netbooks. It was a happy day! But in all reality the delay has been positive on many levels. Even though we still are in the midst of learning a we go, during those initial 7 weeks we were able to put in place some important protocols and do some introductory work with the students.

As we all know there is head knowledge and then there is application of that knowledge in a real classroom. What looked, well almost easy, last spring required many adjustments when students and teachers walked in the door this fall. For the teachers, even though they had visited other schools and were committed to the vision, the importance of changing teaching /learning became very real. They did not want these netbooks to become expensive paper and pencils. Lessons plans needed to be revisited with a more realistic perspective of what ubiquitous connectivity would mean. Blogs were set-up for these new classes and instruction and discussion of how and why we blog moved forward. Student scribing was explored and begun and the teachers had time to work with Dyknow which we are using for lesson delivery and classroom management. In many ways this buffer time has allowed the teachers to build their confidence and competency in administering a 1:1 program which has helped the deployment go very smoothly. Walking through the rooms the day after we distributed the netbooks students and teachers were moving forward almost seamlessly.

There will still be bumps in the road and lots of “just in time” learning but I am more convinced than ever that there comes a point at which you have to be willing to take the risk even when you do not have all the answers. We already see student engagement increasing in our Junior High and we are looking forward to rolling out a 1:1 program for grades K to 5 over the next 2 to 3 years.

St Elisabeth School serves students from Preschool through 8th grade and is located California. We have a multicultural student body and 69% of the students live at or below the poverty level.. Over the last 18 years, as a teacher and then as principal, I have always been committed to the integration of technology across the curriculum and over the last three years I developed a program of global collaboration for our school.. As an administrator I have made it a priority to build a common vision, helping the staff become risk takers and to invest in the future. Together with the staff we have also done the same for our parent community helping them to embrace the needs of their students in a connected world. As a community we have developed a common vision for the future, which includes a commitment to digital equity and ubiquitous connectivity for our students

Originally written for 1:1 Sig Newsletter)