Monday – the labour day weekend. While most people are relaxing having a second coffee (okay maybe I’ve done that too) feeling fortunate for the extra day off teachers and students have a different feeling. It’s not that we don’t want to go back but it’s a combination of anxiety, anticipation and excitement all rolled into one. Endings are always difficult. My family had a particularly lovely summer. It was low key and relaxing. We didn’t have any grand vacations but lots of cottage trips, beach days, park visits, late night with neighbours watching movies projected outdoors. Many fond memories were created. While I don’t want to go back to work and I love the time I’ve been able to have with my children. I am ready. My room looks great. My new grade 3 teaching partners are lovely. My new administrator Kathy is wonderful (we miss you Greg) We have big exciting 21stC plans for the school. I cannot wait to start up Green Team with my colleague Sarah and Coding Club with my other colleague Michelle. I have a feeling that this is going to be a really great year.
So today while I enjoy my last day of summer with my family and friends I will also be ticking off items from my to do list. I’m sure there are about a zillion things I am forgetting and there are a bunch of things I’ve intentionally left off the to do list.
As my husband Phil and I prepare for the new school year it’s with a heavy heart as we think of our colleagues and students in BC. Nobody wants this. Not parents, not students, definitely not teachers. Admittedly I do not know all the intricacies of their negotiations (or lack of) but being a teacher I do have a sense of what is involved during contract negotiations and it’s not a lovely situation to be a part of. I’ve been following #iwillholdtheline and #bced on Twitter and reading articles posted on Social Media and what gets me the most are the comments calling teachers “greedy”, “selfish” and in some instances much worse. I get it emotions are high, parents are scrambling to figure out arrangements for their kids, high school students are worried about getting their credits this year – but to call teachers greedy and selfish is the wrong approach. Does a greedy person spend their last week of their vacation setting up their work space? Do they take a course to upgrade that they have paid for themselves? Attend conference and workshops and even present during their vacation? Do they spend their own money to buy resources and materials to enhance their workspace? Do they stay up until 2:00am the weekend before they go back to work prepping materials and planning activities? Maybe they do? Perhaps you don’t support or agree with the BCTF but perhaps you could hold back on the insults.
BC teachers while you hold the line we will be sending you our support from Ontario. We leave you with this message:
Yesterday after school I had the privilege of attending and sharing at the Peel 21st North Network meeting on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) It was so great getting to collaborate with other educators interested in teaching and learning with 21st Century strategies. Seriously the fastest hour of my life. I wish there was more opportunity to just talk to colleagues in this open sort of way and share. Too bad we can’t self direct our Professional Development more. But thank goodness for Twitter because I have been able to do that! It is also neat meeting your Tweeps in face to face situations as well!
Anyway the topic of discussion was BYOD and I was asked to share my experiences with BYOD in a primary classroom. By no means am I an “expert” as there isn’t really one correct way of managing it. You do what works for your classroom, school community and your comfort level. I’ve been doing BYOD since last year and I feel like it’s been pretty successful. On any given day I can have 3-8 devices brought in which is pretty great for 8 year olds. My feeling too is that as our school community becomes more comfortable with this more devices will be sent in. Anyway after talking last night I learned that some people do BYOD days in primary which is a really good way of handling the devices when you don’t wan to deal with them daily. I don’t do this. I ask my students to bring them in every day. More and more we are using them. This week I showed the kids how to use Miriam Webster dictionary online specifically the Thesaurus function. We have been writing Recounts and I see a lot of “And I felt happy” so this was a simple way showing the kids how to change them up. Best part was the kids who had devices were looking up words for their group mates who did not have them. We also use a safe search engine kidrex.org (powered by google) mostly it’s been during our #geniushour time and our Social Studies inquiry projects but more more when students have questions they will ask “may I use my device and look it up on Kid Rex?” Instead of the kids seeking the answers from me they are being problem solvers and figuring it out on their own. Isn’t that what the ultimate goal is? For students not to need us any more and to be able to be good at asking and answering questions? 🙂
One of the challenges with BYOD is not all children have the same apps on their devices. I’m in the process of updating my apple/android app list so parents can add them to their child’s devices but they aren’t always available on each type of device. A suggestion I learned from one of our ITRT (Instructional Technology Resource Teachers) Tina Zita @tina_zita give the students the tasks and let them figure out which app to use. So if you want them to create a video some might just use the simple camera function, some might use something like iMovie or show me or even educreations. The focus doesn’t have to be the product but more the process and it’s teaching them great problem solving skills. This is an idea I’m going to adopt for sure in my room.
Anyway the network meeting was fantastic and I look forward to the next session and I thank our ITRT team for putting together an amazing event for us!
Here’s a great video featuring the staff/students at Treeline Public School sharing their successes of BYOD. In case you aren’t aware Treeline has really pioneered the BYOD movement!