1:1 is Coming!

Observations from the Campus Visit

Okay, so maybe the title isn't nearly as intimidating as when a Stark warns of the literal winter that is of course metaphorical in terms of the death of all that is warm and good. Regardless, here are the notes I took and observations I made during our visit.

We didn't walk into the type of pod Spock was learning from in the 2009 Star Trek movie.

A part of me was curious what a campus would look like if it truly embraced a 1:1 setting and integrated it into everything it did. Of course I didn't really expect to step into the Vulcan educational system, but I wasn't sure how the space might be redesigned.

Seeing the library first was pretty cool because of the projects on display and the use of flexible furniture. There were still books (which would make many people who fear the digital word happy), but there was more openness to the area allowing for a relaxing experience instead of a traditionally solemn/academic one.

The reason flexible furniture is so appealing to me is because it allows for so much movement. How easy is it to teach the same old way with all the desks facing one direction or in the same groups simply because moving them around is a hassle? It also allows the students the opportunity to be more mobile whether they are in swivel chairs or standing at moveable stations. Of course, flex furniture doesn't have to be the special kind that costs tons of money. I applaud any teacher who finds pieces to incorporate into the classroom creatively to offer an option away from the desk.

Devices Don't Destroy Discovery

Here is what I wrote down while watching students in the science classroom:

  • Students follow along in own digital notebooks while teacher instructs
  • Swivel chairs allow student movement during class
  • Teacher stated that we have to "change the way [we] think about school completely"
  • The teacher is still responsible for creating/gathering resources
  • iTunesU (a great alternative to textbooks) may be downloaded and used offline

Wait. Staff Development That Actually Develops Staff?

It is safe to assume all educators have that moment when staff development becomes two (or three or four or more) hours of repeated drivel that could better be spent on planning and grading. (No judgment here-but we all get to that point eventually.)

Here is what I wrote down regarding Staff Development on this campus:

  • Four different teachers pick an app they feel strongly about and "teach" these apps to other staff members in the morning
  • The afternoon is spent allowing teachers to work these apps into their lessons (Good News: THIS IS PRETTY MUCH WHAT TIC DAY TWO IS!)
  • For reluctant teachers, a sub is paid for and the teacher spends the day observing his/her peers integrating tech appropriately and effectively
  • Might even film ineffective teachers and make watch to see students reactions to teaching
  • Need a LOT of admin support and not just at the campus level
  • Adults need to be allowed to make mistakes too-"I give you permission to fail a lesson miserably. Let me take you to someone who did it correctly."

A Culture of Digital Citizens

In order for all of this to come together, they must build an environment that allows for it to work smoothly:

  • Students don't even touch tech the first week of school-campus is setting behavior expectations and building culture
  • Second week is digital literacy/citizenship in all classes
  • Librarian plays a huge role in teaching digital resources
  • Feeder schools are starting to receive devices to get used to expectations by the time they get to middle school
  • Students must have a pic of their faces on lock screens or lose privilege for a week
  • No Tech Tuesdays at lunch still allow for human interaction
  • Article of the Week in all core courses allows students to connect to world events and build academic vocabulary
  • Advisory is for SSR and homework
  • Play music during four minute passing period-after three minutes the music stops so students know they have one minute till the bell

Final Thoughts

Was this cool? Absolutely! And if someone handed me a magic want I would definitely transform education into something like this. However...

  • One thing that was stressed repeatedly was that it didn't look like this the first year. They are in year three and still learning. If this is a direction a campus wants to go, it needs to understand the growing pains involved especially since the workload for teachers will be heavy at the onset to front load everything.
  • Instituting something like this will look different at the high school level because everything is more numerous: staff, students, materials, etc.
  • There are so many variables district to district. It is important to remember that one school cannot be the exact copy of another.
  • All tech aside, without strong educators nothing else matters.