Sunday, September 8, 2013

Classroom PLN

On the third day of school, a tech specialist knocked on my classroom door. "Here are your laptops!" she chimed. A couple days prior, my teammates advised me not to count on the laptops for a least a month. Naturally, I was very pleased to see that they had arrived on the third day school as opposed to the third week, or even third month of school!

My first question was, "When may I begin using these computers? And how do the students sign on?" The tech specialist's response was a little wishy-washy. Apparently students used to use a standard user name and password. Now, for security reasons, each student must have their own user name and password. But... the user names and passwords have not been created yet. She suggested that I try using the outdated standardized user name and password. Problem: The tech specialist could not remember the standard user name and password nor had she been told when the individualized user names and passwords would be available.

So, there I was. Three classroom laptops. No usernames and passwords. I'm sure they will rise to the surface and be shared with the teachers in time, but, how much time? My students were thrilled to see them lined up neatly on our computer table, plugged in and "ready to go" when they arrived to school on Friday morning. Let's hope the user names and passwords arrive as promptly as the hardware did.

I'd like for my students to have a PLN (Personal Learning Network) of their own within our classroom. We are living in an age where "sharing" is becoming more popular than "privacy". My students are eager to share their thoughts, their work, and their life stories. In addition, they need to work on their typing skills. I know for a fact, I, along with the majority of my classmates, became incredibly skilled typists during the years 2001-2003 via MSN Instant Messenger.

Most people are curious about their peers' thoughts and experiences. I'd like for my students to feel enthused when sharing their writing and reading others' writing and I'd like for them to write not only for me, but for themselves, and for a larger audience (their classmates). I am a huge believer in personal journal writing as well. Thus, not all writing is meant to be shared, but, when it is meant to be shared, I want my students to feel comfortable enough with each other to share their thoughts, comment on each others' work, and grow as readers, writers, and technological navigators, together.

As a side note, web PLNs may be especially beneficial for ESOL students. The computer screen serves as a buffer. Students have more think time before they share, and more think time while they interpret what others have already shared. This creates a low-stress environment where each student can relax, and respond without the pressure of "real-time".

I'd like to experiment more with edublogs and edmodo, however, I must first collaborate with my 2nd grade teammates to see if thy are at all interested in participating. I'll also need to get permission from the administration. Sometimes, I feel as though teachers have quite a few hoops to jump through before they are able to experiment with new programs, etc. One of the busiest weeks of my life was last week (first week of school) and it was tough to get enough sleep, let alone experiment with technology. But, it is something I would like to do, so, I will find the time... sometime. Hopefully soon! Perhaps around the same time my user names and passwords arrive!

Cheers to a new school year and to a new way of sharing.