It is fair to say that last year was a defining one in my teaching career. When I reflect on the 2012-2013 teaching year it is almost mind boggling to think of how much changed for me. Last year at this time I was trying to wrap my head around how I would integrate the use of iPads into my classroom. I couldn’t quite come to terms with how this could be used to drive forward student learning. I had no doubt they would be engaging, but I wanted to be certain that it would serve a real purpose. I trusted that our school board administration recognized their potential and so I jumped on board.
Okay. I didn’t quite jump. I very slowly moved on board. One. Foot. At. A. Time. With my door closed, so no one would notice if I was messing up. I was already following all of these amazing Ontario educators on twitter, and was feeling as if I was the only person NOT using tech seamlessly in the classroom. So, I began to pay closer attention to what they were saying. What worked. And what didn’t. What apps best support learning. How to introduce the tech so that it supported our culture of learning. I took many baby steps until one day I looked around me and realized that I had managed to integrate the use of technology into my classroom.
By the time June rolled around my grade 2 students were blogging, tweeting, collaborating on Edmodo and using a variety of apps to create projects. Students completed math tasks on Explain Everything, and then would link their completed work to anchor points in our room to create Auras through Aurasma. We had many challenges along the way and it wasn’t always easy, but we used these obstacles as opportunities to develop our problem solving skills.
At the end of the school year I was declared surplus staff. As disappointed as I was to be leaving, I was equally excited to be joining a great new staff closer to home. As the weeks passed, and September came closer I began to feel a little (okay more than a little) anxious when the reality began to sink in….I would no longer have access to an abundance of technology in my classroom. I wasn’t entirely sure I remembered how to teach without it.
September arrived and this year I found myself struggling with how to wrap my head around how to teach without access to as many iPads. Could I provide engaging learning experiences? How would we collaborate online? What about students that prefer to complete work digitally? Slowly, I began to accept that it would look very different than last year. And that was okay. What remained consistent was that I had the support of administration and my colleagues. That access, though different, was there. So, I began to relearn the curve.
Week two has just concluded and it has occurred to me that we are further ahead today than I was last year at this time. With one iPad in the room; we have created several Auras, a Sock Puppets video about our room (and a QR to scan to view it on our You Tube channel). We have used Plickers several times a week, and today we tweeted out questions about our math patterns. Google Classroom was reserved for when we had access to the cart of iPads, allowing us to share our Social Studies research.
It occurred to me that perhaps this wasn’t the worst thing for me. It forced me to look outside of the apps and programs that were familiar to me and find ways to adapt to my new learning environment. I am really looking forward to continuing to grow with my new students, and can’t wait to see where we end up in June!