This has been a year of new endeavors in my classroom. For the first time, my students are now using Google Docs as their primary tool for writing in Language Arts. They are able to share their works with me on-line, and I am able to give feedback to them at any time. At first, the thought of doing this with 45 LA students seemed daunting, but I was blessed with a lot of support, and the results have been very positive. I never worried about how the kids would handle it - this stuff is such a part of their lives - it was getting over my own fears that mattered the most.
Another frontier I have entered lately has been expanding students' use of cell phones - specifically the smart phones so many of them have - in both my Reading and LA classes. There are some good resources out there, and for each class I am finding more and more reasons to create an environment in my classroom where students can effectively use their phones, while being responsible & thoughtful users. In Reading, some of my students now use their smart phones as e-readers, and download free books for independent reading time; they share great new books they've discovered with classmates. In Language Arts, I have had students who need to get some quick research done for a multi-media project...I only have 1 student computer in my classroom, and some days the computer lab is booked. Solution: use your smart phone, spend 2-3 minutes searching what you're looking for (our building is wireless), write down the facts & cite the source, good to go! I look forward to discovering more ways to take advantage of this technology, and further develop my classroom expectations & policies (along with the kids) to govern student use.
A big part of this has been the support of my principal, and that can't be overstated...it's a huge deal to work in an environment where you're supported & encouraged to do what's best for kids and learning, even if it is "new" and "untested" to a certain degree. That, along with many other things, is why on this particular Friday, my job doesn't suck. In fact, between that and the exciting new opportunities for learning and collaborating with and between my students, it can be downright rewarding at times.