It’s been a while.
For anyone who follows this blog (admittedly, not too many) – I haven’t written in over a month. Time seems to be at a premium these days and the transition to a 1:1 classroom has certainly been a factor. Â The year has been a challenge and I’ve had to re-tool the way I conduct class. Â I’ve decided to share some of my tribulations here in the hopes that someone might learn from my mistakes.
Issue 1: Starting class
Pre-netbooks: Before I had netbooks, students completed a boardwork question in their Â notebooks everyday when they came into class. Â I posted the question on a google document (that students could access online) and added any notes from the day under the opening question. Â Even if we were in the lab, I could just write the question on the board and they could answer it in their notebook. Â This was the opening routine for every class, every day. Â Every 2-3 weeks I would collect the notebook and grade it for participation. Â It helped bring order to my middle school classroom and kept the students relatively organized.
Netbook failure 1 – Â No Consistency: This year, I wasn’t sure how to do boardwork. Â I decided to skip the notebooks since all the students had computers. Â The problem was, I never established a consistent procedure. Â Initially, I used Answer Garden a lot, but the 20 character limit was too short for some questions. Â If I needed something longer, I switched to a google form. Â Other times, I had students enter data from the previous day’s experiment on a shared spreadsheet. Â Some days, they didn’t need the netbooks, so I just had them come in and sit down (never a good starting class procedure for middle schoolers). Â The problems with this were two fold: Students never knew what to expect on a day to day basis and I was spending a lot of time creating forms and Answer Gardens and then posting them on my classroom blog. Â Everything was generally disorganized from the get go and students had to ask each day what they were supposed to do.
The remedy: My remedy has only been in place for about two weeks now, but it seems to be working. Â I thought long and hard about bringing back the notebooks, but ultimately decided against them. Â In many respects though, my opening procedure is much like it was two years ago, it just has a netbook twist. Â Each day, I post a question (on a google doc linked to my website) that students have to answer when they come into class.
They submit the answer to the question on the same google form (linked on my website) each day. Â I have Â a separate form for each class and they have to be signed into their school Google Apps account to answer it. Â Since the answers on the form are time stamped with their name, I can check to make sure each student answered the daily questions over a designated period. Â This saves me the time of creating a new form each day and provides students with a regular routine. Â To make sure students don’t take too long, I set a classtools.net or online-stopwatch.com countdown timer going once the bell rings. Â When the timer goes off, they need to have their netbooks closed, which keeps them from playing around on iGoogle or something else.