Saturday, 31 October 2015

#sparKtalK5 Solutions Sought

What-so-what-now-what...Indeed. After an especially productive pro-d session with my Principal, Sean McCartney, I reflected on the amazingly positive impact a collaborative partner can have on my own attempts to problem solve. Unfortunately, he's a busy guy and not always available. My program is a pilot: a multi age group of learners (7-13 years) in the annex of an elementary school, focusing on inquiry and hands-on learning opportunities in a highly personalized learning environment, sees me with a "schedule" that is different than that of the school we are situated at. As a result, we are almost always on our own; we have recess breaks on our own and lunch on our own and the peer group is very small. My school-based peer group is even smaller.

Following my pro-d morning where Sean and I tackled Learning Plans and reporting options, I am all the more aware of my lack of readily available collaborative opportunities. Unfortunately, I've got more than my fair share of new-program-problems to solve and am feeling a little desperate for collaboration opportunities. I've been sharing out through my #sparKtalK vlog posts trying to build a network with which to collaborate, but the momentum continues to be...non-existent. I am pushing through however, and am committed to my vlog through to the end of June with the hope that things pick up. As well, I will continue to pursue interactions with my PLN on Twitter and consult with professional and community contacts as that network continues to grow.

This week's "What"...Technology and limited resources. Have a watch (it's brief! honest!!) and please comment, questions, critique, chat, collaborate, or contribute in any way shape or form in the space below, via Twitter (@spedlearner) or via email: tross@sd61learn.


  1. Thanks for your post, Tanya. I appreciate your honesty and sharing your hopes to collaborate.
    I am wondering a few things...
    Who is supporting your program? By this I mean who decided to implement your program at your school? Was it the principal, school district, you? I am wondering if there would be any extra funding for a couple more iPad minis or Chomebooks. Or would the school or district be able to hook up a few more PC desktop computers in your annex? It sounds like with the isolation and the type of program you are starting up there might be a possibility of receiving extra funding or a grant through the school district? I believe the deadline for grants was Friday....but you never know unless you ask! You have probably already gone down this path...but maybe it's worth another shot. Or, would be it possible to reach out to outside companies and organizations that would be interesting in funding you to purchase a few more technology resources? Everything you are doing in your classroom sounds bang on. Personalized learning, inquiry based, collaboration, meaningful incorporation of tech, hands-on learning.... someone might be interested in collaborating with you by supporting your learners through resources and technology.

    Your work on Fresh Grade is also inspiring. I too am using Fresh Grade in the classroom. I teach Kindergarten and have decided to use it this year as a reporting and e portfolio piece. So far, I have only been posting and sharing highlights with families. It is my hope, in the near future, to have the children begin to post as well.... I hadn't thought of using the Student profile app though, I just had thought of them finding their name on the teacher quick capture application and posting a picture or video, with selecting their profile to share to. I think with the logistics of singing in and remembering user names on the app might be a tad complicated in kindergarten, but we shall see!

    In our classroom, we have:
    -one teacher desktop computer
    -one teacher iPad (full size)
    -six iPad minis (Modern Languages French Grant last year)
    *It is no where near a 1:1 ratio, but our needs are different than yours. It sounds like you are on the right path having children bring in devices from home. Could you also put out in your school newsletter if any families have old smartphones to donate? The children could search using wifi!? This doesn't solve having children type or complete work on technology, but would give you a few more research connected tools. Just another thought.

    I will keep thinking! Best of luck. Your group of learners are extremely fortunate to have such a reflective educator who is doing her very best to support everyone and your program.

  2. Hi Rebecca! Thank you so much for your thoughts :) I can't tell you how appreciative I am! My program was implemented by the district and its location is, in fact, not at the school with which I am affiliated.

    In answer to some of your questions: Two ipad minis were ordered mid-September and we are still waiting for them to arrive. Yes to the grant application piece and I would hope to use some of that money to purchase more technology (likely 2 more ipads).

    I feel that my students benefit from being able to do a significant portion of their writing on a computer (laptop, desktop or chromebook); the ipads/iphone/ipod options are great for accessing apps, mobility, contributing to their portfolios, quick/brief note taking, and creating (movies, pictures for presentations etc). Ultimately a combination of tools would be best.
    I have just (this afternoon) received a message confirming that some chromebooks have been ordered and am cheering loudly, thinking about what a difference this is going to make in my classroom. I am still keen to hear how people creatively maximize their resources and utilize tech in innovative ways. I so appreciate your ideas and suggestions!
    In terms of FreshGrade, we are going to do some sessions together as a class where I ask students to contribute a piece of learning to their portfolios. I will bring my own ipad and my iphone (I've loaded all FreshGrade apps - parent,teacher, and student versions onto my phone) so that those without tech can use mine to do it. I would really like students especially, but parents too, to get on board and use it so they can be actively involved with picking pieces to share and reflecting on their learning activities.
    I love your idea about tapping into "old devices" as a way to possibly access more tech for us to use. Great suggestion!
    Thanks again, and please keep an eye out for future tweets and posts! Tanya

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  4. Hi Tanya,
    Thanks for sharing about your program.
    I cannot believe your iPad minis are still not here! You may want to check into that. That is so wonderful to hear about the chromebooks being ordered. Woohoo! I too agree that a combination of tech is the best way to go. Small hand held devices seem to be easier to the children to use, especially the younger ones. Where computers and chromebooks are nice for typing, researching and editing.
    Your plan for FresGrade sounds great! I look forward to hearing more about it.
    Are you planning on attending the GAFE summit conference?
    Thanks! Let's stay connected.

  5. Thanks Rebecca!
    We did follow up regarding the ipad mini's around Oct I'm not sure what else we can do :( Yes, I will be at the GAFE Summit! I'll look for your nametag! Thank you for your comments and suggestions! Tanya