The first week of school, all the teachers are intent on explaining the expectations for each activity students may be involved in. At White Oak Elementary School, we use the CHAMPS program to teach expectations where C stands for Conversation, H stands for Help, A stands for Activity, M stands for Movement, P stands for Participation and S stands for Success. Each teacher was encouraged to have the CHAMPS expectations posted somewhere in their classroom.
One of the activities in the lab is getting ready to leave the lab. Under the P for participation is the expectation that students clean up their workspace. They should log out and close the browser, close the lid of their computer, put everything back in their headphone bag and place their headphone bag back in the drawer, throw their trash away, push in their chair and line up ready to leave. It frustrated me last year when students would forget to do those things, like push in their chair. To motivate them last year, I had a grid on their computer assignment chart where I gave them a mark for not doing their job. At the end of the six weeks, I would draw a number. If it is their computer number and they did not have too many marks, they could pick something out of the treasure chest. This year, I told the students no one would be receiving marks, because everyone was going to do their job correctly. They would help each other remember to get their job done. The pen container on the table will help them remind each other. The student will look at the picture posted on the side of the container facing them. It will be their responsibility to make sure everyone at their table did THAT job before lining up. The four pictures are headphones, chairs, trash, and computer.
I did something the first week of school this year that I have never done with my students before: I made them a promise. I promised they would be successful in the computer lab this year. One of the great advantages of being a teacher is the long summer break that gives me the opportunity to really reflect on the past nine months. This past summer, after careful consideration, I realized my frustrating moments with students the vast majority of the time was due to a failure on my part. I got very frustrated when students struggled with listening and following directions without realizing I have done the task I was asking them to do so many times it had become second nature to me, whereas, they may have never even seen the website I was asking them to go to. This year my plan is to videotape or screen capture my instructions and post the video on Edmodo. That way, they can watch it as many times as they need to. They can watch step one, pause the video, complete step one, then watch step two, etc. Even better, I will create a qrcode of the url where the video is hosted so they can scan the code with one of my iPods or their own smart device and watch it there so they can work on their computer simultaneously.
I did tell my students, though, the promise had to be a conditional promise. I could only keep my promise if they were a student that ROCKS.
So we had a great discussion of what each letter stood for and what that behavior looked like before students checked the class roster posted on the wall to see what computer they were assigned to this year. After retrieving their computer from the table, students opened Edmodo from our Symbaloo webmix and logged in.
They added themselves to the grade level chat room and began typing to each other. After allowing time for them to get use to the platform, students switched gears and began using the chat room in Edmodo as a backchannel while we watched the video posted below:
We talked about how Mark Bezos’s statement was true: Every day may not present us with the opportunity to save someone’s life, but everyday presents us with the opportunity to affect one. We talked about how we affect the life of everyone we come in contact with: either positively or negatively, for the good or for the bad. We choose.
Before leaving the lab, we had a discussion of why it is so important that we log out of a program we may have logged in to. One of my frustrations last year was students failing to log out before closing the browser even after being reminded multiple times. When my third graders were in the lab Monday, I realized for the first time students were closing the browser, thinking that they were logging out! Talk about an epic failure on my part of teaching the specifics! I can joyfully say ALL my students this week were successful in logging out of Edmodo!
Before leaving the lab, I had students write one thing they learned on a post-it note and stick it on my board right outside my door. I plan on doing that each week with all of my classes. After another week or two, we will move to a digital platform like Padlet to post our learning. This is going to be a great year of learning in the computer lab!