I haven’t even taken my class to the computer lab yet for various reasons. We are only in our third week of school, so I don’t feel too terrible about this. Most of my students won’t even be able to sign themselves into the computer since I am going to make them use their personal log-in information this year instead of the generic school log-in. We have but one computer in our classroom, and I swear sometimes it is running on dial-up Internet. I’m expecting to go in anyday and find I am unable to even turn it on. And then there are the iPads. Supposedly, someday, we are going to have 3 assigned to each classroom for my 19 students to share. But someday hasn’t happened yet. I get it. The administrators are busy and since we teachers have been without a contract for over a year, we are currently not participating in a variety of activities as a form of protest. This puts even more on the administrators, pushing “distribution of iPads to classrooms” further down the list.
And yet. It would be wrong of me to say that I haven’t changed my teaching this year thanks to our #cyberPD digital reading discussions.
I have in my class several students with some serious learning delays and disabilities. I’ve had to really think about how to include them, and keep them busy during the morning literacy block. The aforementioned computer issues have contributed to that dilemma, but during the first week, I put one of them on the computer and logged him into www.bistripsforschools.com, a website where students can make comicstrips. Our discussion this summer helped me realize that this counts as writing. He has to think about the story he wants to create, find appropriate details to add to the cells of each strip, develop characters, and create dialogue. He thinks he’s playing a game. Rather than assigning an adult to spend the whole morning trying desperately to keep him on task, I can just let the other adults in my room at the time help all the other kids! And his writing isn’t anything like anyone else’s, but he’s still going through the steps. He’s even revising!
During the first week, I also got another student started on some procedural writing. It’s not what the rest of us are doing, but...I am not really going to say more about that. Suffice it to say, he too is busy going through all the steps: planning out the steps required to make cookies (step 1: open the package of dough), scripting what he wants to say (oral language!) performing each step in order while someone records it on an iPad, and now assembling it into an iMovie video, complete with a title and credits.
Yet another student used a video to learn how to make an origami ninja star when the written directions he found in a magazine turned out to be useless. He carefully watched each step, pausing along the way to think, rewatching when necessary, and analyzing what he was doing throughout. Isn’t this exactly what we want out readers to do?
So, short story long, I haven’t quite gotten to the thing I wanted to report on. But WOW! Thinking about literacy skills while also thinking of my students as digital citizens has already impacted our classroom greatly. Perhaps soon we will get to the computer lab and set up our Biblionasium accounts, and we will be able to get the iPads into our classroom so we can use all the Padlets full of digital literacy links I have created. For now, I am going to celebrate the changes to my program, and their learning.