What a week. And it was only a three day week, to boot. I don’t think I can ever remember a more exhausting, exhilirating opening to school, due in large part to the Tablet PC pilot that I’ve been bringing up here from time to time. I must have made at least 50 visits to classrooms, checking in, troubleshooting problems, giving therapy, watching kids, trying to make sure the teachers in the pilot knew we were going to be there to support their efforts. I knew going in that some would flourish and others would struggle, and that’s been the case. But all along we’ve asked them to be brutally honest in their reflections and assessments since capturing the good, bad and ugly was the only way we would be able to trust our decision making at the end of the process.
But having said that, I’m feeling almost giddy. By and large, the teachers are finding their classrooms and their practice changing in good ways. Some excerpts from our Moodle site:
I just want to say…I am having a great time with this thing. I have used it since yesterday to show old student work, art from the internet, and websites….It dawned on me today that I could grab my tablet and show a student exactly what I was talking about on my screen right at thier desk! Well, this was exciting to me….Then today I had a few new add on kids come into class…. The tablet is a wonderful tool when a new student comes in because I could go through my entire presentation right at his desk. He didn’t miss a thing. (This was not expected)
How cool is that? And another:
I got a huge amount of class participation doing a vocabulary worksheet with my freshman by allowing them to write the answers using the tablet. Far more than i’ve ever gotten without it. Everyone in the room seemed engaged.
Again, the unexpected, and that’s what will continue to be the most interesting. And finally, this from an e-mail:
Am loving every second of teaching with the tablet!!!! In 302, the digital projector room, I am teaching low level Spanish to a class of only 10 kids, each with learning disabilities… and they have been writing sentences and labeling pictures on the tablet as the rest of the class watches. They love putting their own personal touch, and learning from each other… It is incredible to watch!
Now of course, not all is good. Despite my best efforts to help them Zen about their own approaches and results, some are feeling behind, not as successful. I keep repeating my mantra that success will not be measured by what happens in the classroom as much as by being honest about the experience. There are no grades, no bars, no exams, only the experience whatever it is. For a group of motivated, high achieveing teachers, this is hard for some to get to. I’ll keep trying.
Finally, I just wanted to point to Gardner Campbell’s deconstruction of my Tablet screencast from a couple of days ago. It’s one of those very powerful examples of how the transparency of these technologies allow us to learn from each other. And, it’s an example of what continues to amaze me about the Read/Write Web, the connections that we make to teachers that we learn from because we are willing to share our own knowledge and questions and experiences. That seems almost standard procedure in my life these days, but I’m amazed when I think of how different it is from just a few years ago. Our best teachers are those we find, not the ones we are given.