Learning to effectively implement technology within the classroom can be a challenge for teachers. The opportunity to learn something technical is often over-shadowed by the myriad of everyday tasks that a teacher faces daily – student needs, new curriculum, evolving assessment practices, parental concerns, standardized testing, field trips – these all add to the seemingly endless list of daily tasks and priorities.
Lisa Schneider, a Grade 5 teacher at McKenzie Elementary in Victoria, faced just such typical circumstances at the beginning of this school year. Returning from maternity leave, family concerns on one shoulder and a new teaching position on the other, she did not balk at the prospect of implementing a SET-BC Classroom-based Solution as well. Lisa dove right in, plunging not only into the Google world using the 15 Chromebooks loaned by SET-BC, but also immersing herself into the world of iPad apps to support and invigorate her students.
Lisa began by introducing Google for Education supports, and soon found that her 29 students were producing more than she predicted in Language Arts, Science and Social Studies. She immediately discovered the benefits of the Victoria School District’s subscription to Read and Write, a tool that provides students with access to word prediction, speech-to-text, read-back and text highlighting as well as other reading support features. Lisa was able to work with students to determine which features were most supportive of their individual needs and then turn off those that were unnecessary or might overwhelm those who needed to focus. She was also able to reinforce directions and instructions by sharing them directly to students’ Google Drive with links to information, photos and videos.
Students grew in the area of collaboration and were fascinated to see all their names appear when they contributed to the same document, reinforcing accountability for responses that they might offer. “Students have also shared their finished work with each other for feedback or just for fun,” says Lisa, “something they are proud of writing in Google Docs…”
Lisa continued supporting students in the online environment by asking them to submit their work electronically so she could comment on their efforts in the online forum. The 2-to-1 ratio of Chromebooks to students in the class allowed for increased access to the internet for web searches and the classroom’s Mathletics subscription as well as providing help for students looking for diagrams to support Science explorations or images for Art assignments.
Lisa was a joy to watch as she explored the world of technology in her classroom. Having mastered one area effectively, she would quickly investigate the next. FreshGrade was used by her class for e-portfolios, she has considered Google Forms for surveys, quizzes and feedback, and before long, she and the SET-BC consultant were discussing apps on the iPad that might also support some of her learning goals. With each and every conversation during the release time offered with the SET-BC Classroom-based Solution, Lisa asked about or learned of another way to integrate the few iPads she had as well as the images or videos created on them, to share to students’ Google Drives and revitalize their interest in many subject areas. Ideas and possibilities grew daily!
Lisa herself expressed how far she has come in an email to her SET-BC consultant after a training session: “When I moved to McKenzie school last August and found out that the previous teacher had applied…to receive 15 Chromebooks, I was nervous about taking on this project. This year already was a steep learning curve for me with new technology because I was coming back from an 18 month maternity leave and while I was on leave, the curriculum, our reporting options, and our attendance and student records programs changed. Also, Google accounts were introduced, as well as Mathletics (an online Math program), and the Chromebooks. My classroom also came with 6 iPads. All of these things, including the iPads, were new to me. In September I felt like I was struggling to keep my head above water with all the new technology I need to learn how to use, all at the same time.
I persevered. Now, in April, I feel like I am using these new technologies fairly well, some to more advanced levels than others. The training that you have provided to me made the Google accounts seem accessible and easy to use. You provided me with a starting point and helpful first lessons, and some confidence to try. Most of all, I needed time with someone who knew how to use the Chromebooks and Google accounts, to help me get started.
Thank you and SET-BC for providing me with training! Once I introduced the Chromebooks and Google accounts in the classroom, I learned with my students. We are still learning but I feel a lot more confident after receiving training. It has been immensely helpful.“
Lisa’s Grade 5 class at McKenzie Elementary is finishing the year by creating a collaborative Google Slide presentation to commemorate their Grade 5 year together, one that will be shared at their final assembly. Students will add their baby photos next to a picture of showing who they are today, and a sentence “I am _________!” Lisa, the talented and exceptional teacher behind the introduction of technology into this Grade 5 classroom, should also add her slide with the caption, “I am resourceful, innovative and”, if the pictures of her classroom don’t express it loud enough, “determined to be inclusive.”