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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Eight week transformation!

Hello friends,

Today I would like to take a minute (or 10) and talk about the major transformation my classroom, my teaching, my students, and my philosophy has undertaken.  I started my career as a behavior disorder teacher 21 years ago and as you can imagine I learned very quickly that structure and consistency were a necessity for me to be able to successfully get through my day. I carried those two basic ideas into the elementary classroom with me.

The very first thing I did was set my classroom with physical structure, organization, and visual consistency offered through matching color schemes and symmetry. My classroom management was the same. Very consistent, and weighted evenly between positive and negative consequences, with a strong focus on creating successful, thoughtful, responsible citizens.

Then enter iPads! We started gung ho in January and haven't looked back.

Here are a few case studies to share the changes I have seen. My class statistics have several IEP students, several gifted students, and several students below grade level in reading and math. Much like every other classroom in America. One of my students came to me with some strong behavior issues. He was guaranteed to have to leave class any day we worked on writing or math (which was every day).

 When we became an iPad classroom room, all things changed. His first blog post was literally 2 short sentences (5 words each) and a question (because I told him he had to ask a question, which we fought over!)  I stepped back and just continued to lay out the expectation of Tuesday/Thursday blog post writing, and Monday/Wednesday/Friday was reply and comment day. (notice the structure and consistency? I just cannot let it go)

Well, just six weeks in, I have a young man who has realized that his writing has impact. He has an audience that spans the globe (thank you Twitter, Google + communities, and Comments4Kids) He now asks...hang on....ASKS if he can blog. He usually creates 3 or 4 posts a week, on top of what I ask him to do during the week. AND these posts are a good paragraph or two. His organization has improved 100 times over! He uses capital letters, and punctutation (without reminders!!!) And all without my nagging. He has transformed into someone who wants to write and for a reason. His writing test this quarter jumped two proficiency levels, from beginning to proficient. It works folks!

On the topic of blogging, another friend had never used punctuation
EVER! and one fine day he received two comments on his beautiful paragraph about the reader being out of breath because of missing punctuation. In two short comments, and two seconds progress was made the likes by which I haven't been able to accomplish in two years! He always remembers his punctuation now. I do not give him reminders either.

I have a young lady who refused to speak in front of others, uses Tellagami and iMovie to create these amazing presentations to give in front of class. She has gotten such great reviews and feedback from her peers, she has offered to teach some new discoveries with a few apps we use in class...WITHOUT AN AVATAR! She uses her mouth! AND stands in the front of the room!

My job has become a moment of discovery every day. I have moved from a traditional teacher to an "introducer" and a facilitator. The students have taken over the role of teacher and not only have become strongly motivated to learn new things, but also to make the jump to help each other learn. They are amazing collaborators. I am always surprised and blow away each day but what they produce.

iPads in the classroom, used the right way will become a life changer. It has for me.