I spent an hour this morning observing a Grade 11 class working on a social studies assignment using a set of MacBooks provided by the school district. One of the purposes of this pilot project, now three weeks old and set to run until the end of the semester, is to determine if the students are able to show improved understanding of the concepts by using the computers to research information and demonstrate learning.
Some comments and questions arising from the observation:
1) Most students seemed actively involved in the assignment. They were using Google Tools - in this case, Google Documents, to answer questions regarding Meech Lake and the repatriation of the constitution.
2) When students went briefly off task (as observed using Apple Remote Desktop in Observe mode) it was usually to chat or to explore YouTube videos. The YouTube diversions were more difficult to track as being off task as the teacher uses video resources for some of the assignments.
3) One student commented that using the computers for assignments was much harder than doing the same assignment on paper. The teacher is not opposed to students using pencil and paper, but would like to see all give an effort at the one to one approach.
4) Two students were noticibly upset that their work seemed to disappear from Google Documents. The teacher was able to recover the student work by showing them how they had saved the document, and finding it listed in their documents list more than once. Something further to investigate.
??? I know in my work that I take virtual road trips from time to time. My brain will not allow me to stay on a single task for a long time. What should be the expectation of the teacher and the school district for one to one classrooms? How much leeway should be given for "brain breaks"?
??? In provincially examinable subjects, how much time can go in to talking about the technical issues so that students clearly understand the web based tools they are using.
A new group of students has just walked in the door... also Grade 11 Socials. It will be interesting to me to see what, if any, new issues surface.