SET-BC Classroom-Based Solutions rely on the committed and invigorating energy that often occurs when teachers collaborate to support their students. At Pierre Trudeau Elementary in SD #39 (Vancouver), the result of three teachers (classroom, resource and teacher-librarian) teaming up to support each other in learning an unfamiliar software program and its associated apps, has resulted in months of enjoyable and prolific cooperative planning, a multiplicity of resources and ideas to support students, and the means to maintain the skills they are learning.
Indeed, this committed trio, by working together, has strengthened each other throughout the year as they’ve learned how to integrate new apps and software into their students’ educational program. This school year, Sandra Kirkegaard, Grade 3 Classroom Teacher, with Louise Lauzon, Resource Teacher, and Allison Jambor, Teacher-Librarian, implemented the new Clicker 7 software program on a Macbook and the suite of Clicker apps (Clicker Docs, Books, Sentences and Connect) on the iPad. As their levels of comfort with technology varied, the teachers opted to co-teach using the technology and arranged their schedules to support each other.
Though they had some limited use of iOS apps in the classroom, they had never been introduced to Clicker 7 and were quickly impressed by the flexibility and promise of using the picture, read-back, word-bank, sentence-structure and matching game supports to engage and entice their students into the world of writing. Once introduced, students soon took to writing talking books, some using the Clicker Books app while others used Book Creator.
Their first creations, books based on the landforms unit that they had been studying, were impressive and exciting. Students were immediately engaged and were producing more and sometimes better-quality assignments. As the SET-BC consultant visited with them during one particular class, they enthusiastically showed off their creations and asked questions to help sort out any problems they had had in learning the apps. Each and every student was keen and proud to share and demonstrate their writing products.
The Trudeau team was committed to learning as much as they could fit into the two classroom-teacher release days that SET-BC has been able to provide this year, and thoughtfully approved of the support they received from having a consultant who worked with them alone, visited and worked in the classroom with the students, and who was available by telephone or email to work out problems and issues as they arose. A large new software application and four new apps was a sharp learning curve: the team is beginning to understand the vast array of activities that are available on the laptop version of Clicker 7 and the limitations of the smaller Clicker app versions.
They have initiated themselves into the world of book-building, construction of word-banks and Clickerboards (a software-based way of webbing and brainstorming), and matching and talking activities. They have been appreciative of the pre-thinking required to manage student work on iPads and have learned to swiftly transfer files from iPad to laptop and back again in order to consolidate student work to a communal folder and transfer activities to the various iPads for use with different students.
We often talk about the diversity among our students without reminding ourselves of the valuable diversity amongst ourselves as teaching professionals. Sandra, Louise and Allison’s ability to support each other in their assistive technology professional development has had many added benefits: As each teacher attends the sessions with the SET-BC consultant to learn and hone their Clicker skills, each teacher comes away with a core set of learning outcomes, but each also retains different details and is able to convey their learning to their colleagues.
With three teachers involved in the learning, the school continues to build the capacity of the entire staff to integrate technology into the classroom. The teachers also benefit from mutual encouragement to attempt what’s new to them and to put-aside fears of making inevitable mistakes in unknown territory. Though each started with a different level of tech-comfort, each has grown in their ability to use and teach with tech and is willing to share their knowledge.
“A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step.” In the ever-evolving world of educational technology, we know that each step leads us down a path which may afford our most vulnerable students the ability to connect to learning in ways that we haven’t seen before. As teachers facilitating life-long learning among our students, we are fortunate to take those first, sometimes scary steps, with colleagues and friends.
The Trudeau teachers’ journey continued in Term 3 with renewed vitality to learn more about apps and a final half-day release day to reflect on what they have achieved and discuss where they would like to go next. With the enthusiasm they have maintained so far this school year, we are excited to see where their journey will take them!