Julie A. Cunningham

Academic Advisor

Onwards and Upwards

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With roughly 2 weeks left in the year, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time reflecting on the successes I’ve had this year…. and the failures (a WHOLE post dedicated to those coming soon).  I’ve also been sorting out goals for the next year.  I currently have spreadsheets in progress that line out how much (little) time I have with students to meet technology standards, and it’s frustrating to see the disparity between goals and time allotted.

Here’s what I learned this year:

  • Keyboarding goals need to be a percentage gain with a goal (similar to Read Naturally), rather than set goals based on WPM suggestions for age groups.  Each child varies drastically in their typing speed, and all need to be challenged to achieve. (Well, look at that!  Our district motto does stick…. Empower to learn, Challenge to Achieve, Inspire to Excel.)
  • Children vary in their tech knowledge based on their home environment and access to equipment.  Create a wide range within each project to meet the needs of both special education students and gifted students.
  • Teachers vary in their own tech literacy levels, and often do not understand what they are requesting.  Make time to listen carefully, then communicate clearly.
  • Students have expected the lab to be playtime, and it took the better part of a year to show them that we will be ‘doing’ things in there beyond playing games.  Even so, we didn’t accomplish anything close to what I wanted.
  • Classroom management is an art form, and can vary from 4th grade class to 4th grade class as well as between grade levels. Expect the unexpected, plan seating better, train students to enter/exit quickly and quietly to maximize the time.

Goals for Next Year:

  1. Plan a stellar, engaging, and exciting showcase project for every grade that incorporates as many NET*S as possible and make this the first priority during non-testing lab time.
  2. Expect, and require, students to get content done in the allotted time, using partner strategies, redirects, etc.
  3. Train 2-3 student experts from each classroom in B.E.R.T.  (Berthoud Elementary Rocks Technology) Camp and weekly after school BERT Kids so they can share their knowledge with students in their class lab time.
  4. Strategically seat students in lab in a ‘skills grouping’ manner with a BERT expert in each group.
  5. Student generated content in as many areas as possible to create a sense of ownership- wall decor, desktop images, screencasts, website.
  6. Meet with students to set keyboarding goals, and help them attain them in a purposeful manner, not relying on a particular program to drill the skills.

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