1:1 In My Room

some rights reserved by joewinston42My school is a 1:1 school in grade 5 through 12. At my grade level (4th grade) we have computer carts with 11 – 12 computers per cart. There are 2 carts for ever 2 classrooms. So even though we aren’t totally 1:1, I usually have access to them when I need them.

At the beginning of the year we spent two weeks letting the students show us what their various tech skills were by allowing them to do an open project using any form of tech and any programs they felt comfortable with. From this I was able to create a poster to hang up in the room stating which kids were the “experts” for different programs and skills like: Google Sites, Numbers,  Keynote, Powerpoint, Garageband, iMovie, being able to use the schools printers, cameras, transfer photos… Every kid’s name was on there at least once. I checked in with them about every 2 months to see if anyone wanted to be added to a new section. I provide the students with opportunities to get up front and share any tips, skills, or tidbits they might have learned.

Two students in the class each week get the job of being a COW Herder (Computers On Wheels). I don’t remember where I had heard this term, but loved it and the kids like it too. When I ask the herders to go get the carts I usually have directions or a problem for the students to read or workout as they get their laptop fired up. Each students lap top is numbered. I let the students name their lap top and decorate a sticker on the outside to personalize it more. I find they take better care of it once the name it. I also post if students should get out their headphones for today’s work. I had them bring in their own head phones that they could keep in their desk at all times.

My desk is set up so that I have the monitor on my laptop and a separate monitor that is configured with the SmartBoard. This way I am able to have one thing up for the class to see and one side for me to work from. I do have a fancy cart on wheels to put my laptop on and roam around the room, but I’ve found it cumbersome and riddled with connectivity issues to the projector and SmartBoard.

Students use the computers for a variety of purposes in my room: googledocs for writing and sharing work with partners and/or parents, brainpop to learn a topic for discussion, online math games as a center as I work with smaller groups at the smart board just to name a few.

As they work I make sure I am up and wandering once they have started. At the 4th grade level they’re quick to turn each other in when the notice of task behavior, but you do have to look for those that are trying to hide their monitor from you or make swiping motions to change their screen when you’re walking their way. Students that have difficulty staying on task using technology in my room loose the freedom to sit where they want. They have to sit as their desks positioned where I can easily see their monitors as I scan the room. In one EXTREME case I had a student that I had to ban technology use. The only way he could use it was if he was connected to the SmartBoard while online so it was clear to everyone what he was looking up.

When I need to get their attentions I slowly count down from 5 and say “Power down” (a trick I learned from Learning 2.0). The kids make the sound of computers shutting off as they close their lids and pt their heads on their hands and listen. Once instructions are given I say “Power up!” and they turn back on and lift their lids.

I’ve tried to reinforce to the students over and over that using the computers is a privilege. Those that can’t display control and proper netiquette lose that privilege. For those students that show that they are responsible users I share fun videos and online game links with them via email for them to look at at home.

I feel that the the use of laptops in the learning environment is a great opportunity for students to show that they can be responsible learners. You need to give them some room. You can’t control everything they do, but set clear expectations for off task and misuse behaviors.

It takes a village to raise a child.

Whose responsibility is it to guide our students to be able to use technology to analyze, learn, and explore the world around them?

Who’s job is it to teach the NETs standards for students and how do we ensure they are being met in an integrated model?

This seems to be a question that schools coming to quite often. Phrases like, “Here’s something else to add to our plate,” and “I’m a math teacher not a tech teacher!” are phrases I heard former colleagues say over campfire discussions last summer. There are two issues I see at hand:

1) Who’s responsible for delivering the standards?

2) How do we incorporate these standards into the lives of our students and not make it feel like extra work for both the students and teachers?

I personally feel that the NETs should be delivered by all teachers. That’s right, ALL TEACHERS. The entire village of educators: Math, Science, Library, Reading, Writing, P.E., Music… Each one of us needs to take on the responsibility of seeing that our students are meeting the six standards presented by ISTE that help guide students with their use of technology as a part of their daily lives:

NETs for Students

Having an isolated NETs focus class would not make sense. These skills aren’t something that you can teach one and done. Technology is part of their lives. It’s what they’ve known since they were born. Schools need to scaffold and tier the NETs within the curriculum at each level so that the standards become part of everyday practice no matter what the subject. Overtime they would be just common practice.

I would like to see school’s intentionally invite their ICT Facilitator to curriculum planning meetings to offer input of ways technology could assist the units being looked at. Then the uses of technology could be cross referenced with the NETs. You might discover that students in 4th grade are have the opportunity to hit upon Creativity and Innovation quite a bit, but never touch Digital Citizenship. While students in 5th grade focus on critical thinking, but not collaboration. Adjustments could then be made. Having the six standards continually spiraling in the curriculum would give teachers the opportunity to monitor student progress over time.

The big selling point in making this work is by showing teachers that they already do a lot of things in their classes that highlight the six standards. It might not have been intentional, but now it can be.

My big question to end on is, “Who’s job is it to teach the NETs standards to Teachers and how do we ensure they are being met in an integrated model?”

Course 2 Final Project: Thou Shalt and Shalt Nots

The Right Thing / The Wrong Thing

The Right Thing / The Wrong Thing

I enjoyed looking at a variety of Acceptance User Policies from various schools around the world. It gave me some good ideas of things I wanted to include in my AUP and helped me appreciate the work my school has done on our policy.

My school in broken into four divisions: PK-2 grd, 3-5 grd, 6-8 grd, and 9-12 grd. We are a 1:1 school in grades 5-12. There are currently three AUPs: PK – 4, 5 – 8, and 9 – 12. Students in my division (3-5) have access to: laptops, ipods, Smartboards, kindels, digital cameras and ipads.

One of the things I first wanted to do was create a 4th AUP for grades 3 and 4 specifically. I didn’t feel they should be clumped in with the lower primary students, but they aren’t 1:1 like our 5th graders.

I used my schools current AUP as a foundation. They created it last year for the 1:1 roll out. One thing that I kept was the “I will,” format. I looked at a couple of schools’ policies and they felt too heavy for kids laid out in the “I’ won’t,” style.

Another thing I felt was important was an expectation for bringing your own device. Even though our school has the students purchase their laptop in fifth grade and in grades 3 and 4 we are 2:1 with laptops, quite a few students in my class have their own ipods, ipads and Kindels. I feel that there is an opportunity to allow students to use these devices within the classroom that’s being missed.

I have also changed the format of delivery to the students. I have kept it the AUP only 10 expectations long. It’s short and manageable for this age. At the end of each expectation the student and parent must sign their initials. I hope this slows down the student and parent to actually go over what they’re initialing one by one.

After completing the AUP the students must take and pass a quiz covering the 10 expectations. The quiz is created by the students themselves. They get into groups of 2 – 3 and create a good example and a bad example of each expectation (see the sample below that my current class created). The teacher goes through the samples and builds a quiz hitting each expectation. Students must pass the quiz with a 100%. They can use the AUP for assistance. Students that don’t pass must retake the quiz until they do.

I feel that besides a classroom poster stating the expectations, the teacher needs to review the AUP periodically. Students can even make the posters for the room and create skits about each standard.

Thanks to those that helped me with this project and the schools that made their AUPs public.

JISD      ISKL     SSIS     HKIS

Copy, right? or Copyright?

Some rights reserved by El PapouSome rights reserved by El Papou

The copyright laws right now are very vague with online material and have room for a lot of discrepancies, but I feel there is a moral sense to help our students know right from wrong. I’ve recently been doing a project with my students that has them showing their understanding from the unit in the format of a graphic novel. MANY of them were in disbelief when I didn’t accept their first drafts. Quite a few groups were able to locate where they got their information and pictures from. They did a great job of gathering the information and putting it into their own words, but straight out took the pictures in their project from various sites without knowing if it was ok to use. They didn’t even think twice about it.

We talked about copyright and why is it not ok to just take pictures from someone’s site and use it without permission. I gave them the example of the family in Missouri that were surprised to find out that their Christmas photo was being used for advertisements in the Czech Republic and the fashion student that discovered her photo on a line of clothing. They could all see that it was wrong to take something without permission and mass reproduce it, or reproduce it for profit, but we totally fine with taking something if it was: 1) for a school related purpose and/or 2) going to be altered.

Lawrence Lessig says it best in his video: Re-examining the Remix, “We are different from our kids. We made mixed tapes, they remix music. We watched TV, they make TV.” Should we have the right to use content online to recreate new material to help us interpret and understand the world around us? Kids in my class today think so.

Musicians are horrible at this. Music artist have been sampling bits and pieces from each other for over 200 years. What makes it ok for them? Why can someone today throw a little bit of Chopin into their rap song and it’s acceptable? Why can’t someone be able to find pictures online and use it to create something new? This is the tricky part of copy right law that’s getting a lot of people into trouble.

I looked closely at creative commons and discussed the different levels of usage and what they meant with my students. They went back over their projects and used photos that were deemed ok to use. Quite a few of the students went a different route. In order to be safe they either used photobooth or another program to push themselves creatively and make their own pics that went along with the topic.

I feel that I do have an obligation in my classroom to make my students look at where they are getting their information, assess what’s fair to use, and give credit to those who let you use it. Getting the students to think about this is a huge step for my current class. I remind them over and over that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Connected Responsibilities

Netizen: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The term Netizen is a portmanteau of the English words internet and citizen. It is defined as an entity or person actively involved in online communities and a user of the internet, especially an avid one.[1][2] The term can also imply an interest in improving the internet, especially in regard to open access and free speech.[3] Netizens are also commonly referred to as cybercitizens, which has the same meaning.

Netizen: Urban Dictionary (Yes, I use Urban Dictionary)

Citizen of an internet community. Such a noble, loyal netizen certainly deserves applause.

I’ve had some really good discussions in my class on this topic this week. It’s interesting to see how my students (4th graders) feel and interpret this topic. We watched the Brainpop.com video covering Digital Etiquette and engaged in a discussion.

Their perception and interpretation: A netizen is someone who doesn’t send inappropriate messages (bad words, cyberbullying, spreading rumors, or general mean things) to others. You should only write things you would say to someone’s face even if it’s in another language.

This led to a good talk about how more and more people are communicating through technology. It was no surprise that 18/22 of my international class of 4th graders use skype, email or texting to communicate with family and friends on a regular basis. They even use technology at home to take music lessons, work with a tutor, or join gaming groups.

With all of these examples of people coming together for various purposes, I asked if they communicated differently based on the group they were interacting with. The answer was unanimously… “Of course!” They were able to explain that they would chat differently depending if it was video or text, with their mom or with a teacher, with someone “old” or their own age. They realized without being able to read body language people might get the wrong message when you type jokes or sarcastic phrases.

We also talked about how they typed using slang. They said that their typing also depended on whom they were communicating with and the purpose the message. One student shared, “If it’s a good friend. I can use short cuts, like “YRU L8?” but I wouldn’t send that to my grandma. She wouldn’t get it.” I asked when else is it not ok to use texting slang, and most of them could give an example or two, but they didn’t all agree. The points they agreed on were: 1) Will the person understand it? and 2) Will it hurt their feelings?

As technology is changing more and more, bringing people together worldwide, we agreed that this role as a Netizen needs to be looked at carefully and respected. “What might be acceptable in one culture online, might not be in another,” xxxx realized as we talked. “Students could actually be offending others and not even know it while they share ideas,” she added.

We talked about how we show respect to others in person and the same should go for online. This is part of just one of the ISTE NETS for students. It addresses the need to gain insight to the lives and cultures of others we meet online as we engage with them.

*Picture from


Wired All Around Me

I’ve recently read a section from “Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project“* about “Hanging Out”. It talks about the shift of the definition due to the implementation of technology.

As I read the article I was sitting at a café in one of the most WIRED cities in the world, Hong Kong. I would periodically pause from my reading to see its findings laid out around me.  The report describes how some kids use it as soon as they awake to communicate with friend or significant other. Some use technology as the center piece to gather around and be social (video games, web searches, youtube). Across from me is a group of four guys in their 20’s. They’re sitting in a circle playing a linked game between their PSPs while joking and having a good time. The girl across from me as been slowly sipping her latte while chatting with a friend in Japanese on Skype. The couple in the corner have a Y jack for headphones in their Ipad as they watch a movie together.

I count 47 people in the room. 28 are using technology in one form or another. Almost all have cellphones out or at the ready to read, share, and send texts. It is a new era of hanging out.

If hanging out through the use of technology is becoming the norm for a growing number of people, why are so many educators stopping it in the classroom when it could be used as a valuable resource for our students to gather information and collaborate worldwide?


*The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning  |  November 2008