Day 2 of school had its bright spots and its challenges. We are fortunate enough to have a mobile lab with 30 Dell Laptops for our students to use. After finishing some typical house keeping items, I was ready to deploy the laptops to my students. Before I assigned students to a computer, I began by asking students to help me make a list of examples of mobile devices. The list the students compiled looked like this:
- cell phones
- Nintendo DS
It was clear to me, whether it was 7th or 8th grade, the students had a clear grasp on the concept of what a mobile device is. Upon completing our list on the whiteboard, I shifted their thinking to another topic that involved using mobile technologies; digital citizenship. As an educator and an advocate for the use of mobile technology in the classroom, I was disappointed when I posed the question: “Who has heard of digital citizenship?” Out of all three of my 7th grade classes, not one student raised their hand. This is a problem. By 7th grade students need to be made well aware of what it means to be a responsible digital citizen. Needless to say, I felt it was necessary to discuss this topic with them. During our conversation we discussed the characteristics of being a citizen. Students knew that a good citizen participated in community activities, was respectful, followed rules/laws, and needed to be helpful to others. After students exhausted all the characteristics we talked about how they apply to being a digital citizen as well. Furthermore, I took the time to address cyber-bullying and sexting. By the end of the week, I would like to develop a handout or sheet for the students to put inside of their planners stating their responsibilities as a digital citizen. I also want to send the handout home to parents to help educate them as well. The 8th graders were much better when it came to digital citizenship and that is because I discussed it with them last year. I did revisit cyber-bullying and sexting to pound home the importance behind what NOT to do when using a mobile device.
Even though I took more time discussing digital citizenship than what I wanted, it will be worth it in the long wrong. Laptops were handed out to each student. I called up 5 students at a time and assigned them a number. The number they are assigned will be the same number laptop they will use in other classes. This helps us as the teachers and our tech guy who to talk to if the computer has been used maliciously or it gets broken. On the whiteboard the students were given written directions on what to do with the computer.
- Turn on the laptop
- Login to your school account
- Access Internet Explorer
- Go to www.schoology.com
- Watch the short video on the home page
After all of the students completed the tasks on the board, I walked them through the sign-up process for Schoology. Students were given their individual course codes and then they had to fill in their names, usernames, and passwords. I directed students to use their last name and first initial of their first name for their username. For example, mine would by hylerj. I asked them to make their passwords something easy to remember or use the same password they use for Facebook. Schoology has an excellent feature available to teachers where they can reset a student’s password if they happen to forget it. Now, I did run into a few glitches today with students not being able to log in to their school accounts meaning they couldn’t use the laptop that was in front of them. Such is life when it comes to technology. I had these students look on with other students who didn’t have difficulty logging in.
Despite the typical issues that came about today, I was able to get everyone signed into their courses I created. We then walked through the files/links tab and the discussion tab. We focused more of our attention on the discussion tab. It is here where we will be collaborating as a class. I will have the students post discussion questions for socratic discussions we will have in class. It will be a place I may post reading questions after the students finish a reading homework assignment, and it is a space where students can ask me questions about homework or other assignments. Today, I simply posted the question, what is your favorite music, music artist and why? I instructed the students to post their reply and respond to 2 other members in the class. Prior to releasing them to work on their own, I modeled for them what a quality response is to another member. Responses like nice, wow, I agree, I like that, and great are not accessible. I want my students to actually have a discussion, so I direct them to ask questions, be thoughtful and to put some time into their responses. This conversation and modeling is worth it because students really start to have quality discussions. Below is an example of what a discussion page looks like.
Once students got started, there weren’t any issues with them operating the site. A lot of students were shocked how much it is like Facebook. Even though it appears my students may not have done a lot in class today, they did complete at least one of the Common Core Standards.
- Standards W.7.6 and W.8.6 – Use technology, including the internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
Students were able to identify technology (Schoology) and collaborated with peers and their teacher through technology to enhance their writing.
By the time the end of the day came, I felt like I had been holding my breath all day long. It never seems like there is enough time to cover what needs to be done. Tomorrow brings us to Narrative reading.