This past week was an unusually busy week with our division-wide technology bootcamp taking place on Tuesday and the delivery of the teacher netbooks to the schools that will be participating in our one-to-one program next year. This year is learning year for our teachers and a year to determine the procedures that will guide student use of the netbooks in the following year.
As well as delivering the netbooks I provided a one hour workshop tailored to the needs of the each staff. I had met with each school previously and we talked about how their learning would focus on two strands: social media and what they would like to communicate to students, parents and their community about the one-to-one program. The intent of this first inservice was to explore the netbook itself, to use some social media tools and to begin some preliminary thinking about articulating a vision for one-to-one in their school.
This was more successful in some schools than others. The internet was down when the inservice for the North Battleford Comprehensive High School began thus limiting the use of the social media tools I had planned. We did focus on some of the productivity tools on the netbook but the building of a collaborative document of questions, concerns, and aha moments on a google spreadsheet was limited as the internet came up as the time alloted for the workshop came to a close. Ah well, the next day the principal did thank me for the workshop and told me that staff are quite excited about the venture.
I was delighted with the participation of the teachers a Spiritwood High School as I followed a discussion about student behavior and expectations with one of our division counsellors. It was a long day for the teachers but they joined in the discussions, added to the spreadsheet and began to consider a vision for the one-to-one initiative that they could articulate to their student, parent and school community.
I was scheduled to speak at Luseland School at 1:40 and had hoped to make it to Major School by 3:05. Considering that this was at least a 30 minute drive across grid roads I may have been a bit over optimistic! Luseland teachers also engaged in the conversations and the learning focusing on the big ideas and questions about implementation. I was late leaving for Major School and unfortunately took a wrong turn leaving the community and did not make it Major School until almost 5:00. Teachers were still in the school for Parent-Teacher interviews so I was able to deliver the netbooks. Over supper the teachers opened their netbooks and explored and experimented asking many questions. I enjoyed our conversation and look forward to working with them in January when they will spend a full day in school-based technology-based boot camp.
The highlight of the week was a return to Luseland School to watch the iSITS teacher, Micheal Hagel, take his staff through their technology boot camp. Teachers were totally engaged in their learning – experimenting, exploring, questioning. While their boot camp agenda explored many different tools what impressed me most was the focus on teacher learning via blogs and rss feeds. Michael expressed how important these tools were to his professional learning and encouraged and helped teachers build their personal reading lists – create their own learning networks.
I am also pleased that many of the teachers in our one-to-one program have joined our division Yammer network. We are beginning to create a strong community of learners willing to share their learning, their classroom activities, ask questions and respond to the questions asked by their colleagues.
The support of the iSITS (in-School Instructional Technology Support) teachers will be instrumental in the success of our one-to-one initiative. Micheal’s leadership in the implementation and delivery of the Luseland Boot Camp enables a solid beginning for his teachers. Mavis Hoffman’s leadership has encouraged teachers to experiment with a wide variety of technology and media. One teacher thrilled parents with Audacity-made recordings of their children reading; another is using Google Sketch-up with her students to plan a playground; and all of Major teachers are using Yammer to share and communicate. At NBCHS Rob Wall has re-instituted Techie Tuesdays and he Yammers, Twitters and blogs about their one-to-one experience. Ryan Hackl at Spiritwood has his teachers using Chatterous for intra-school of communication and continues to encourage their use of Yammer and a wide variety of social media tools.
I know that we are going to have issues with our one-to-one initiative. However, after this week of working with teachers, of observing them with the netbooks, and their eagerness to use the them with their students the issues will not be about teacher fear or hesitation about learning. The biggest issue will be lack of bandwidth. So please, please, Saskatchewan Ministry of Education – hear this plea….either provide us with more bandwidth or allow school divisions to purchase more – allow us to use the tools that will facilitate learning in the 21st Century!