From the TeacherAs a teacher, it is my nature to put my students' needs before my own, which is why I was very reluctant to submit a project for my own professional needs. However, when my project was funded, I was humbled by the fact that generous donors like each of you are willing to invest in teachers as much as you invest in children. This realization rendered me speechless, and I cannot thank you enough for your commitment to education.
Having never owned a laptop or a high-end camera, I was as anxious as the students to open the packages and explore the "goodies". I made sure not to open any box until the majority of my STEAM students were present so that we could all discover our new resources together. To say we were excited is an understatement. Believing that students learn from hands on experiences, I immediately encouraged them to touch and try their new items and admitted that we would learn together as they probably know more than me. Without a doubt, the best feature to my students is the touchscreen element of the laptop. None of my students have computers in their homes so their interactions with technology is limited to our school activities. Even though the club is very familiar with using iPads, they had no idea that a laptop could have touch capabilities like a tablet. The exposure alone to this level of technology has been so inspiring for my students and has been a springboard for new ideas. Initially, the students spent several sessions becoming familiar with the tools and started testing their camera and computer skills. Starting with Halloween, the students took pictures with the Sony Cyber-shot camera and used the HP Notebook to upload the images, add effects, crop, and submit them (with my supervision) to our school website. The students have also been testing their movie making skills by recording footage of yoga classes, college visitors and other school wide events and creating short video clips. At this time, we have not mastered our movie creating techniques so ongoing learning is key! Just recently, our principal requested for the STEAM club to make a PSA video on cyberbullying. We welcomed the request and are anxious to use the new tools to assist with this project that is slated for spring.
In addition to our club sessions, I have invested a lot of time in learning how to use the equipment and the various capabilities for my own professional needs. Having the luxury to travel with my laptop outside of the workplace, I have been able to attend BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) workshops and join Saturday webinars on a variety of topics that will enhance my teaching efforts such as Windows Movie Maker; Excel Basics; and iPad Apps for the Classroom. However, the most significant professional impact thus far stemmed from a request from a special education teacher. As the lead technology coordinator for my school, she approached me in late October in need of assistive technology tools to use with her special needs students. Normally, I would have been limited to school functioning hours to search for solutions, however, the laptop gave me the flexibility to work anywhere anytime which increased my effectiveness to seek resources. Based on that, I was able to work from home, download and test potential applications until I found one that met her needs and even used the netbook to train her for classroom use. Not only was I able to expand my own technology skills, but also share my growth with a colleague a win-win situation.
Even though I have been able to enjoy the resources for several months, I feel like I am still in the beginning phases taking baby steps. Technology is constantly evolving, but having resources such as these available for professional and classroom use helps me hone my skills as an educator. The experience thus far has been priceless and I appreciate your support.
From the Students