What is working in TechConnect?…What is not?…
Furniture & Set-up
I am really unhappy with the furniture solution in our physical space. Due to the location of the electrical and network outlets, we are confined to the way we can arrange the rectangular tables. That means flat against the wall in a u-shaped configuration. Students are seated one next to the other staring at the “wall”. Some of the tables are long enough for three computers, while others will just hold two. Space is so tight with the need of getting are even so close together that the keyboard and mouse are overlapping on two tables. I would like to have oval tables, where computers are arranged in groups facilitating collaboration among students. Tables that maybe can be lowered and raised according to the students. The little Kindergarteners are not very comfortable and mostly sitting on their knees, while the sixth graders are barely able to move between desks and their knees.
I would really appreciate any advice on a better solution regarding furniture in a lab setting where 20+ desktops have to be accommodated, but is still conducive to a collaborative learning environment. I will post some pictures of our current physical space and set-up soon.
Pre-K through 4th grade have a set Tech Connect time. They come on a weekly basis for 30 minutes each. 5th and 6th grade have to sign up specifically for a time slot. It seems to be hard for the teachers of the older classes to find a time in their schedules to bring all three classes of their grade level, since the lab has only so many open slots and the rest of the time it is already reserved for the regularly scheduled classes with the lower levels.
In addition, grades three and up are compartmentalized. This means that one of the grade level teachers teaches Math to all three classes and another teacher teaches English or Social Studies. When the Social Studies teacher is working on a project or is reinforcing a skill in Tech Connect, the other Math teacher is with her class, when it rotates through Tech Connect. This is not the ideal situation and will need to be addressed in the future.
Classroom Teachers Present
One of the most positive developments that has emerged is the arrangement of classroom teachers accompanying their classes to Tech Connect. This arrangement has not been met with the enthusiasm of all teachers, some have even been resistant. They have come to our room and asked if they really, really needed to stay, making it clear that they had much work to do in the classroom. Some have come and sat down in a corner of the room, looking as if not involved. Other have embraced the opportunity to learn along side their students or even stay one step ahead of them by motivating themselves to learn more in depth about a program or website we were using with the kids.
Slowly we can see the fruits of our arrangement. Some of these passive teachers, who were taking that backseat while in Tech Connect, are coming out of their shell. They are asking questions… jumping in when students have a questions too. This is very encouraging. … Maybe it is the fear of the “uncomfortable” media… Some of them only need some time, encouragement and patience….while others will never cross the bridge…
We are still struggling with some grade levels of getting the concept of integration… us being the extension of THEIR classroom. When we come together for tech planning, they are still sitting quietly waiting to hear OUR plans instead of telling us what they are doing in the classroom. What skills or concepts do they want to reinforce with their students? Some grade levels and several individual teachers are bubbling over with integration ideas making our planning time into amazing moments of feeding off each other and everyone excited and looking forward to implementing these tool or project with the kids.