Sunday, May 4, 2014

Digilit Sunday...Embracing the Chaos

Thank you to Margaret Simon at Reflection on the Teche for hosting DigiLit Sunday.  Visit her site to read other posts about teachers using technology in their classrooms.

Life is a journey, not a destination.  ~Ralph Waldo Emmerson

We are almost finished building our website to showcase our research.  I mentioned in last week's post that we used Wonderopolis as our mentor text. It's been very gratifying watching them go back to Wonderopolis to see how the website has incorporated key vocabulary or written a conclusion.  I can see the evidence in the kids' individual web pages.

Working collaboratively in Weebly has been an adventure this week.  We had one of those days that if you didn't laugh, you would be truly exasperated.  I'm sure the problem was with my "rookieness" in using the site this way.

I created our site, Wondering in Room 114 and then created a page for each child.  We all used the same log in and password with the understanding that we would not edit any pages but our own.  I chose not to create student accounts because I didn't want the kids to create a whole website.  (That's the part I need to investigate more).  On this particular day, kids were scattered everywhere.  Some were upstairs with the intervention teacher, others were in the library with the media specialist, and some were in the classroom with me.  Things were going along very well.  Then I got a call from Mrs. Brown from the library.

Mrs. Brown:  "Mrs. Johnson, some of the kids want to change their original website plans. They are discovering some new things on Weebly that they want to try.  Is that ok with you?"

Me (feeling pretty confident since everything was going so well): "Yep.  It's fine. I expected that they would want to add some new features once they discovered them."  I know that happens to me when I'm working in with a new tool and I'm all about authenticity in the classroom.  I assumed that the kids would stay on their pages and use the elements provided there.  (And that was my mistake).

It wasn't 2 minutes later that some of the students started calling out, "Mrs. Johnson, the whole background changed.  Now it's all blue and I don't want it to be blue.  Wait, now the background has the picture in a different place."

"Mrs. Johnson, now my page is all about Bill Gates.  That's E.'s page."

"Mrs. Johnson, I think J. changed everyone's pictures.  I have basketball photos on my page."

Ughh!  Chaos had erupted.  I knew what was happening.  When I said that kids could change things, they were changing the theme.  Others forgot to save their photos to their page only, while others were inadvertently working on the landing page instead of their own.  Unfortunately, the kids were in 3 different places, not all in the classroom where I could halt everything.

It took a few minutes and a few trips upstairs, but we got things under control.  And I was reminded again of an important lesson.  When working with young children and technology, it's important to know that there will be glitches.  It's inevitable.  Knowing in advance that things can and will go wrong and being patient and flexible is paramount to the success of a project such as this.   In the last 4 or 5 years, there's been a huge paradigm shift in my teaching.  I no longer need to be the "expert" when using technology (See Holly Mueller's post today about her experiences) and I am more comfortable giving up control.  Sure, it was a little  very chaotic for awhile, but we got it figured out.  We all learned more about Weebly and the kids will be even better equipped the next time they want to create a website or another page on our Wondering site.

They are still building and revising, and I am impressed with what they've done.  They are embedding video and slide shows, adding hyperlinks, and playing with Google Draw.  I hope that next week, I'll be able to unveil the final project for all to see.


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Another free photo slideshow by Smilebox

4 comments:

  1. Looking forward to following the progress next week. Thank you for sharing!
    Barbara

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  2. Yes, one needs to just jump right in, and not worry about the chaos. One of our issues often is that the online work takes too long to upload, etc. We get impatient, etc. But the kids are so motivated & producing wonderful things. You wrote about it here: "They are embedding video and slide shows, adding hyperlinks, and playing with Google Draw." Great stuff!

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  3. Thanks for sharing and being brave enough to write about the mess ups. Sounds like a huge project to undertake. I am so jealous of the little laptop's on the kids' desks. We are still in the dark ages and all work on the few computers I have in the room. Sometimes we go to the library to work. Love the Smilebox video. That's new to me too. I am so happy to be learning from so many people about digital literacy.

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  4. Thanks for sharing your chaos/reality! Can't wait to see the finished project!

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