Saturday, May 2, 2015

My Dream Is Starting To Come True!

Over this last holiday season, someone from my PLN mentioned that CenturyLink gave large grants to teachers for technology. I had heard of the grant before (even applied once) but had forgotten about it. When I went to their site, my heart sank a little to know that I only had a couple of days to write a fairly large grant proposal. I was motivated to at least try!

Last Monday, my principal came into my classroom with two visitors. They presented me with this $5,000 grant from CenturyLink!!! I was so excited about the prospects of having devices in my classroom! I could barely stop myself from dancing around the room! My kids were super excited too! I'm sure my principal and the representatives from CenturyLink had a smile on their face when they left my room and heard a huge outburst of cheering, whooping, and hollering! Kids were super excited to touch and pass around the check.

 Five thousand dollars doesn't go very far when purchasing devices. I know that I can't afford to buy them for every student. That's where the frustration sets in, and I struggle to stay positive. For the past five years, I have been trying to piecemeal ANY tech access for my classroom. Consequently, I now have eight iPodTouches that are outdated. I can no longer add updated apps. Although I've been extremely grateful for the grants over the years, purchasing one or two devices, a year helps but doesn't achieve the kind of classroom that I envision in my head.

Before I go any further, I know "it's not about the tech". Devices, etc. come second to pedagogy. But, I'm talking strictly about access.

I've heard a lot of discussion about Chromebooks instead of iPads in the classroom. I didn't know ANYTHING about Chromebooks but reached out to my PLN this week to learn. I certainly learned a lot! Currently, I'm moving in the direction of purchasing Chromebooks instead of the mini iPads.

I LOVE the iPad for all of the creative projects that kids can make and share. I use whiteboard apps all of the time. Although I've just scratched the surface of all that kids can do with an iPad, I've learned a lot about educational apps. What I haven't liked is the need to update constantly and having to use the Apple Configurator. It's pretty much a cuss word to me. I manage the iPads for the school. Although the process is much easier than a few years ago, updating and adding apps is a pain!

I'm learning that Chromebooks have a lot to offer. Plus, there would be no need to purchase a case or keyboard. They are also considerably cheaper!

The questions that I've had to ask myself are the following:

What do I want my students to be able to do? How will my use of Chromebooks change my teaching? How do I want my teaching to change? What technical support will I have?
For now (it may change), I want my students to become better writers. I want them to collaborate, to use the learning tools that my students and I enjoy using, to create, and to make a digital portfolio.  Most everything (so far) is available on a Chromebook. I'm not sure if there's a way for kids to use and share their learning like through a whiteboard app. That's something that I'll have to investigate.

I'm EXCITED! For the first time, in a long time, I see my dream almost becoming a reality! I'm extremely motivated to find an extra $2700 somewhere so that my whole class can have a device. In fact, Friday before I left to go home, I submitted another grant application. I want this!

All week, I've dreamed of how my teaching and student learning could change for the better. I have a lot to learn. I'm sure that everything will be clunky for awhile. But, I want to have the technology as common as a pencil. I can almost taste it! Stay tuned!

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