We’re back in school and I am busily familiarizing myself with the kids, their individual talents, and quirks. I’m sure they are feeling the same way about me. Looming over all of the work I am currently doing is my plan for piloting a blended classroom using a station rotation model this year. A number of challenges have emerged, but I have also experienced some wins during these first few weeks.
The set of chromebooks I am supposed to be receiving for my classroom (8-15?) is supposedly in the building but the charging and storage station for it has not yet arrived. To sidestep this issue, I have been booking one of the building chromebook carts and ignoring the nagging voice in my head whispering, “Don’t hog the chromebooks!” I really have to get my kids used to the routines involved in daily use of technology. There is a whole list of introductory messages I need to make clear to them about responsible use, the routines of using Google Classroom, and ways of interacting with me in nontraditional ways.
My current students span two grade levels and two subject areas, which makes planning more complex. Half of them are old enough to access gmail and the other half are not (district requires age 13+). This adds an interesting wrinkle to efficiently using Google Classroom for communicating with them. I am trying to narrow down my main apps for communicating assignments and stay with Google Classroom for the full year exclusively. I am going to have to create some routines for myself for working around this limitation.
Behaviors have emerged as an ugly reality this year. I am encountering many off task behaviors in some of my class groupings. While these behaviors are challenging with or without technology, trying to get full class tech adoption off the ground with these occuring in the background is making my days interesting. Luckily, technology use can be leveraged to help with these behaviors and I see a huge increase in engagement and attention when we do use tech to drive learning.
We are moving forward, however. All of my students have joined the Google Classrooms I have set up for each period and subject and have completed a number of warm-up assignments. They have verntured out into Blendspace, Glogster, and thinkCERCA to get a feel for what is possible for them going forward. I am seeing excitement and a high level of engagement and productivity from many of them. Changing their traditional mindset is emerging as a new wrinkle for me as they are just beginning to see what is possible as we move forward into our year of blended learning together.