Wednesday, August 27, 2014

No... I'm the Math and Science Teacher

It's that time of the year when we return to school and prepare our classrooms for the upcoming year. This year, my school has a lot of new staff. The main office has a completely new staff, including a new principal, and only 60% of our teachers are returning. This led to a very interesting conversation and reflection on my part today.

Our district appointed IT guy was stopping by the building and I went in to help him inventory some "new" computers which were donated by the local college. While in the office waiting for him, I helped our new secretary reset passwords and get some wires better organized so that people wouldn't trip. This led to the conversation where I was mistaken for the building's computer teacher. As I explained to her that I was the middle school S.T.E.M. teacher but that I used the computers regularly in my classroom I realized that perhaps we are all computer teachers.

The more I was thinking about this conversation, the more I realized that we are all computer teachers. Math teachers have been using more digital resources such as Khan Academy, while science teachers are flocking to sites like the University of Colorado's PhET: Interactive Simulations. English teachers have long been teaching responsible research online, while reading teachers enjoy finding new online news sources for relative reading material. Perhaps my quick "I'm not the computer teacher" was incorrect. We're all computer teachers. Even if you expect your students to already know basic computer functions when they enter your room, you will always need to help them learn something new. Maybe they don't know how to take an image from the Internet and format it within their document. Perhaps they can't remember how to add a footnote when citing a source.

Teaching digital citizenship is the responsibility of all teachers. Technology is surrounding our students on a daily basis and we must guide them to use it efficiently.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Thank You Donor's Choose and Staples

Earlier this year, I finally decided to give Donor's Choose a try. I had heard good things about it from other people but I knew that what my classroom needed wasn't as simple as a few books. In June, I put up my first project for two Chromebooks. I didn't want to ask for too much and I felt two was already an expensive endeavor at over $400. A few of my friends made donations after I posted the link on social media, but the final donation of over 50% of the cost came from a single non-profit located here in Philadelphia.

After seeing the support I received from both my friends and complete strangers, I decided to be a little braver and request more in my next project. So I posted a project for an additional ten Chromebooks. Yes, it was over $2,000 but I also knew they give you four months to raise the funds and I was hoping that again my social media followers would help my students.

This morning, I woke up to an amazing shock. I honestly thought I was still sleeping because after I turned my alarm off I checked my email on the phone. I cannot truly put into words my appreciation to Staples for fully funding my project. That's right, Staples. The office supply store where I spend more money each year than I care to think about on school supplies just funded my second Donor's Choose project completely. Now in September, my students will have 12 Chromebooks in the classroom. Sure, that's not enough for a 1:1 ratio, but it will be 2:1 give or take a few extra students.

I knew that Staples was promoting Donor's Choose this Back to School season, but never in a million years did I expect them to fully fund my project. If anything, I expected maybe a few dollars towards the end. Thank you Staples, Donor's Choose, and Kati Perry (it's her name promoting #MakeRoarHappen) for helping my students get the technology they need in the classroom.