on byo-laptops, ready or not here we go …

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by dan barbus

Yes, this blog has been dormant for an appallingly long time, but I’ll do my best to breathe some life back into it.

An amazing number of changes have taken place since I last posted here so here’s the short skinny.

Our technology integration specialist of the last five years moved on to greener pastures. A number of candidates were interviewed for the position, but none seemed to be just the right fit. Rather than taking a chance on a questionable last minute hire, our Administration decided to constitute an in-house “technology integration team” made up of five teachers and two librarians. As a result, after many years, my official job description finally does reflect the kind of work that I had actually already been doing for the last few years.

During our week of teacher meetings before the start of the school year, we offered a series of “unconference” style professional development sessions for our faculty. The sessions were well received and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. I have been thrilled and amazed at energy and commitment that our faculty has put forth to make this all work. We feel like an E-X-C-I-T-E-D AND E-N-E-R-G-Z-I-Z-E-D faculty for the first time in a long time! It is EXCITING!!!

This year marked the launch of our one-to-one “bring your own laptop” computing initiative. All of our incoming seventh graders arrived on campus with their new haircuts, new clothes, and in many (but not all) cases, their new laptops. To be very honest, I was prepared for the very real possibility of crashing and burning horribly badly in our initial attempt to get 240 twelve-year old human beings to successfully log on to our school and set-up on our system to be able to print wirelessly. I was pleasantly surprised at how well everything has gone. Our Computer Services Department has done a fantastic job with our infrastructure upgrades and with the roll out the launch.

We were also pleasantly surprised to find out that in anticipation of our one-to-one computing launch, our library got retrofitted with electrical outlets in the floor! Holes about 5 inches in diameter where drilled through the concrete floor down into the rooms below and conduit was run in drop ceilings of the classrooms below us. The tables in our library were also retrofitted so that each table now panels that pop-up with outlets for laptops and USB plugs for smaller devices! Miracles do happen!!!

All this change is both scary and exciting all at once. Our original plan was to leave our 7th grade Library and Technology course curriculum largely in place with minor tweaks to accommodate the one-to-one initiative, but like a home remodel, the new paint in the kitchen made the hallway look incredibly dingy … So we had to paint the hallway as well … Which made the bedrooms look awful so … To make a long story short, we ended up almost completely re-thinking, re-visioning, and re-writing our Library and Technology 7 course. I feel a bit like this iteration of the class is truly my baby and I’m both excited and a bit scared to watch it to see how it will grow-up.

Perhaps the very best thing in this whole bundle of change is that in my class of 15 seventh graders, I have 14 Mac users and 1 Windows 8 user. My school issued laptop and all of our school lab desktops are Windows 7 machines, but I’ve come to realize that this is, perhaps, the very best thing that could ever have happened to me as a teacher. I have no choice, but to let go of control and become the guide on the side. We’re learning together and I, for one, think it is going GREAT!

More on that in my next post!

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