Sunday, December 2, 2012

Flat Daddy diaries-

Flatdaddy just received approval to pursue  and to institute a one to one ipad program for each student.  I am out here in New Mexico persistently hoping to convince tech support in two different schools within the same district to allow access to Skype or Facetime.  I made this request in August, it is November and still no attempt to install it has been made.  I visited the computer labs and discovered that the computers do not even have web cameras.  And school wifi for personal devices is prohibited.  We live in different worlds.
Flatdaddy's recent visit gave us an opportunity to meld the best of both worlds.  His gentle demeanor set a tone of assurance for the administrators who were reluctant to be assertive on behalf of teachers hoping to install programs on their computers.  One administrator was excited and nervous about allowing a video chat in an elementary classroom.  Do students need permission slips? Do they need parental approval and a media release?  In this part of the world, technology is still eyed with suspicions. I'm not certain if close proximity to Los Alamos is cause for reluctance to support liberal change with technology use or if they know more than us about the reprecussions of unlimited freedoms with technology.
 We explained that a video chat is just like a telephone call or a pen pal letter, except that one class or classmate can speak and see students that they are conversing with.  So, no media release is needed.  A video chat is a passing moment in time, unrecorded.

I have had the opportunity to do something rare in education. I was a personal shopper for our pilot project- setting up an E Literacy Lab.  While presenting at NMTIE, Flatdaddy won a Kindle Fire.  Immediately I thought to have him hide it and give it to our daughter as a Christmas present.  Being more charitable than I, Marc thought to donate it to my elementary school here in New Mexico.  He felt uncomfortable receiving a raffled item that would have gone to an educator in state.  I acquisced and immediately saw an opportunity to promote both the Common Core and 21st century learning.
I was unfortunate to run into the same issues with school policy against releasing a wifi password.  And in both schools, the wifi password that was issued by Central Office did not work.  A request to meet with the tech support is still pending. So, we have a Kindle but can not utilize several applications that would connect students to the outside world.  In fact, Amazon is blocked and I can not make purchases for the Kindle unless I drive a 1/2 mile to the local Starbucks. Two weeks later, I have loaded the device with items purchased with funds dontated by mentors in the program.  I am shopping!
Dr. Seuss,  Ocean House Media created applications that engage students in emergent reading.  Interactive screen allows students to read aloud, to be read to or to read uninterrrupted. As students swipe images on the screen words identifying objects help build vocabulary.  The website offers fiction and nonfiction favorites and Christian spiritual readings as well.  For Kindle Fire, only the app for the one title or author's collection is added to the device, not the entire website.
this was a big hit for one particular student. She is unable to meet with a mentor during the scheduled time.  and comes at a different time of day without her peers.   The student was immediately engaging with the reader.  She could replay the audio and pronunciation of words again and again In particular she hates having a mentor correct her or prompt yet relied on the computer for the same assistance without frustration.  She read an entire Dr. Seuss book, refusing to stop early.
Problems-
without wifi accessible at school, I could not utilize the following:
Pandora, image searches, Words with Friends, Newshog, email. We wanted to allow mentors unable to travel to Skype in for 1 to 1 reading and that wasn't possible.

Lack of connection isn't the end of the world but it is less fun. Fun is a very big factor in developmental learning.  Flatdaddy was eating dinner at his parents house when he met us through FaceTime.   They have a dog who loves attention. Our daughter yelled commands, he sat, jumped and ran to retrieve his favorite toy animal.
Flatdaddy had us squealing and laughing when he held up my cherished JCrew winter catalog and pretended to give the male model a wet woolie or pick his nose.  My daughter reciprocated by searching our home for objects of equally entertaining value. Unfortunately our cat is too dignified to take part in Simon Says.




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