I think that there are two components that are absolutely essential to the success of this project. The first is access to the equipment. The data projector, laptop and SMARTBoard have been invaluable to the learning and integration of the technology in my classroom. Though I think that the students would not get the same benefits nor would the lessons have the same impact, I think that a data projector would still serve some of the purposes and provide some of the benefits. If there was no access to the laptops, it would be essential to have a teacher desktop permanently attached to the data projector.
Secondly, the professional development is so important. It provides us glimpses of new technologies that we can then explore and integrate at a later date. As teachers, we don’t have the time to seek out new tools because we can get lost in cyberspace. However, if we are introduced to a tool (or two) during a PD session, then we can use the little time we do have to direct our exploration and focus on those few tools.
MENTORSHIP AND LEADERSHIP
My leadership role has been informal but impactive. Because of the make-up of my classroom this year and the special needs of several of my students, as well as because of my own health issues, I have not been able to take on the same active leadership role that I did last year. Instead, I have approached teachers one-on-one to provide ideas or technology support when possible or when requested.
REFLECTIONS AND SUCCESSES
Again, given the make-up of my class and my own personal health (having been on sick leave for part of the year), I did not make the same gains in the realm of technology this year as I did last year. However, when I do some deep reflection, I feel like I’ve had at least one big success. Using the SMARTBoard to teach writing has been invaluable. I have seen an incredible improvement in student writing being able to move things around, edit, and correct with the students on the SMARTBoard. Trying to teach young students that the order of their words or sentences can have large impact is difficult. However, having the kids physically move the words around on the SB and read each new configuration has resulted in the lightbulbs going off!
Some of the smaller successes have been the access to immediate information in the guided inquiry we do, the exposure to different tools, and the confidence the students have when facing technology.
YEAR END REFLECTION SUMMARY
This has been a very difficult year for me. I am a little disappointed with the progress that I have made with my students this year. I have definitely grown in my own personal development and I have exposed the students to many new technologies as well. I feel like they have made progress in their awareness and interest, but less so in their actual knowledge of using the technologies. This was disappointing given the major gains that I made during the first year of this project. It has been a learning experience also accepting that not every year will be the same and that some years, with some students will be exceedingly successful and others we will only make small gains. As long as we are moving forward, we are moving in the right direction.
So, in the end, I don’t think that I achieved my goals of using a wiki to communicate useful links to my parents, of collaborating with another class or even of having my students create a presentation using a tool of their choice. However, the students are aware of how to use the computers and several different pieces of software, how to blog, how to turn on and off the SMARTBoard, and some of them (though not all) did create multimedia presentations using PowerPoint and video editing software.