Last week’s article, “Teaching in the 1:1 Digital Classroom”, focused on accommodating Luddites and iPad enthusiasts and this week is dedicated to keeping routines. I need transitions towards technology to be smooth or learning will be set aside for entertainment value only. Notability is my go to workflow application for editing and downloading class notes. Students followed the daily work flow using various templates that I designed or chose- vocabulary organizers, CLOZE activities and reading comprehension charts. Notability allows for multiple downloads of templates which can be added to a single note, building a file on a particular subject. I found it to be worthwhile to give students class time for mastery, learning to utilize the text box, the text tool and the drawing tools. I try to encourage the blending of illustration with text to increase comprehension. This was never taken as seriously prior to ownership of digital devices. Students concentrate on adding details and colors to their sketches or finding online images to copy/paste. There is more enthusiasm for sharing and presenting student work on what used to pass as mundane task.
Student pace varies dramatically in a 1:1 classroom. I plan activities and itineraries carefully with a focus on self reliance. For this I introduced QR codes pasted around the room, under tables, on windows and walls. Scanning a QR provides instant static or interactive links to information. It is a timesaver. Never again do I have to spell out the letter combination of a a URL or tell students how to search the internet for a particular item. I used one to post itineraries at the classroom entrance, the date penned in for later review by absentees. Curiosity draws students to scan this odd black/white code and to discover the activity behind it. It effectively catches the attention of procrastinators since no one likes to be left behind. In this case, students scanned a QR code to access a historic map that they could sketch over in layers of color. These were shared with students who were finishing earlier activities and class time flew by as they collaborated on map analysis. Technology adds value to activities usually considered insignificant. I never could get away with worksheet activities in the past because there was always a reliance on me as the director of the task. Management of the 1:1 classroom takes a ton of planning but it releases students to work at their pace,relying on itineraries not teachers.
With added value in mind I launched the use of aggregrator applications, Feedly and Flipboard. Aggregators allow you to collate a personalized selection of blogs, tags or searches. Instead of following the news presented by one source I require students to follow an aggregate of three sources. Flipboard flips collections into a magazine format, visually stimulating. Feedly clusters RSS feeds for instant access, eliminating the need for single searches. Students set up the app of their choice adding a news category. I insist on subscriptions to al Jazeera and the BBC world news but they add other news source of their own choice. Class time is used for perusing headlines and settling on analyzing competing versions of a story. It was great to hear them share headlines out loud and then compare story details. Each student used my paper template to record their analysis to be reviewed later. The real understanding of the news comes from the conversations that fill the classroom. It was rich.
This current focus on technology has been a fantastic at distracting us from school. “Chilly” in Vermont means starting each day with -20 temperatures. Head colds are circulating through the school and a surprise Lock Down drill happened right in the middle of a well planned lesson. Several students fell in love, several couples broke up. It is a typical week for high school students wishing they were anything, anywhere but typical. Technology helps us whisk away and whisk back. And yes, if tasks are complete… incentives drive us all to make time for gaming. Even I have a piqued interest in Flappybird.