Monday, March 31, 2014

Student Tech update: Leaders In and Out of the Classroom

If you have been following my updates about my work with student tech teams, you know that one of the big themes that I stress with my teams is leadership.  Leadership means that students are helping others while also modeling positive behavior for those that they are working with.  Leadership also means working together to solve problems and create as a team.  In the last month or so, my student tech teams have been leaders in all of those regards, in and out of the classroom.  Here's a recap of the month in student tech:

Working on 1st grade ePortfolios at Nickerson
A fifth grade tech team student at K. Nickerson School reads
stories written by two first grade students.  Finished stories will
be uploaded into their ePortfolios.
In February I began working with a group of four fifth grade students at the K. Nickerson School in Swanville.  As with the teams in Searsport, their goal is to help with technology projects taking place across the school.  In addition, they help keep me notified of issues with the laptops as they arise, and making sure basic things like homepages are set and all of the icons in the dock are where they are supposed to be.

In the past few weeks, the fifth graders and I have been working with Kate Chapin, first grade teacher at Nickerson, to begin building electronic portfolios where students could store their best writing from first grade for archiving.  We have a few iPads in the building, so we are taking pictures of student work and then uploading them to the student's accounts in Google Drive through the Google Drive app.  The first graders are already familiar with taking pictures with the iPads, so the role of the tech team students is to help them with logging into Google Drive, uploading the pictures that they take, and organizing their Drives as necessary.

One of the great things that came out of this experience was to see the pride that the first graders had in sharing their writing with the fifth graders.  The fifth graders were so awesome with their patience and their listening, and even pointed out a few things that needed fixing.  This has already proven to be a valuable collaborative activity and I'm looking forward to what the next few weeks will bring.

Helping 3rd Graders with their Solar System Project
Fifth grade tech team working with third graders on their
solar system slideshows.

At the beginning of the year, our fifth and fourth grade teams helped the third grade classrooms at Searsport Elementary School get started with Google Drive.  Since then they have been using Docs to write electronically in Google.  Over the past couple of weeks, we have been working with third grade students on another tool available in Google Drive:  Presentations.  As part of the culmination of their solar system unit and project, third graders are creating short slideshows with information about their planets.  Our student tech teams have been there every step of the way, helping the third graders with their questions, inserting pictures and text into their slideshows, and formatting their slides so that everything fits.  It's been quite the effort, as there are three third grade classes at SES and only a handful of tech team students.  But, we've helped them all and they're almost all finished with their slideshows

On a side note, one morning our fifth graders helped me with a project that involved deleting and re-adding all of the upstairs printers on the student MacBooks, as well as updating Flash.  They had lunch at 11 instead of our usual 12, and then at 11:30 we went upstairs to work on this project.  We had all 30 laptops updated before the third graders even came back for recess, and then they helped those third graders with their slideshows.  Their ability to be productive and focused is just amazing!!

5th Graders Beginning Their Transition to Middle School

As we now enter April and approach the end of the school year, the fifth graders are beginning to prepare and transition to middle school.  The fifth grade tech team at Searsport Elementary School is no exception.  A couple of weeks ago, the fifth grade tech team at SES and the sixth grade Viking Pilots at Searsport District Middle School met to talk about what they were doing in each of their schools.  The Viking Pilots are helping to implement electronic portfolios at the middle school, and they have done a lot of work making model ePortfolios of their own, while helping students and teachers with adding artifacts to those portfolios.  We also talked about some possible projects that the two teams can work on together, including a website for the school and a website specifically for the tech teams at the Searsport complex.  We will try to meet once a month for the rest of the year; I'm looking forward to seeing what we accomplish, and watching as my fifth graders become more comfortable with their transition to middle school!

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