I couldn’t really sleep on Tuesday night, so Wednesday came a lot earlier than expected. I had planned for some great exchanges and conversation in my class today because I was going to introduce more tech into the classroom. The plan was to show them how to use Evernote instead of cue cards and loose-leaf for presentations and note-taking. I would transition then to collaborating with google docs by compiling a list of birthdays simultaneously. Next, I planned to show them a few different blogs then comment on one as a class before unleashing them on the internet. Life is supposed to go according to plan, right?
I often take for granted that students know everything about WiFi and the internet. I let some students to use their devices to navigate the sites, so I had to tackle some basic WiFi setting issues with them. The other students were supposed to use the school laptops. This began a chain of “I don’t have my login and password” requests. I had anticipated a few of these concerns, but not that many all at once. It is the first week, so I should have seen that coming. After getting many of them logged on, some of them switched off the school WiFi to the public WiFi, so another round of explanation had to be done. After about 15 minutes we got rolling on google docs. Rolling being the operative word.
I have used google docs with a class before, and I know that 30 people can’t effectively post with varying degrees of a wireless connection. With that knowledge, you’d think that I get them to post their birthdays by monthly groups. I didn’t. Problems sprung up as some began posting while others couldn’t because of a delay, and others took advantage of google’s chat. I didn’t see that one coming, but students love to chat. I had been reading articles earlier in the day about “back channel” chatting, but didn’t expect it to take over in class. Some students really were engaged with collaborating on google docs, and I had to curb some of the messages being sent back and forth via the chat.
We moved on to exploring different blogs. Blogs about sandwiches, poetry, travel and so on. I tried to explain to them that blogs aren’t just advertising and that the most useful feature of blogs is not actually the info from the subject, but the conversation you can have with the writer and their audience. I found a blog on using Text Speak in the classroom that I assumed they would be a fan of, but the debate we had went the opposite direction. The majority of them argued that text speak has made us lazy and unprofessional. I asked them about other applications like translation and speed, and a resounding “meh” rang out. We left our comment on the blog and will check for a response later. Next, I allowed them to search for blogs that interested them and suggested that if it moved them, comment.
Not everything went according to plan, if any. We swerved off the path many times, but my goal of furthering communication in different ways never strayed that far from the lesson. We talked about the net, we talked about connecting, we talked to each other, we thought about what we would comment on, and sometimes we just talked. Yes, there were a lot of forks and switchbacks today, but I wouldn’t trade this day for an 80 minute lecture ever.