I was innovating today and no one was there to capture it. Innovating success and epic fail, not just over the course of the day, but in one class period. Highs and lows are the inevitable experiences most teachers have during the course of an instructional day. The events in my 3rd period class today illustrate how precarious using technology in schools is, even though we are in the 21st century and cultivating 21st century learners. On my twitter feed, my PLN, I remember one person saying that teachers using technology in schools today are like wizards. We truly are.
After the fake fire drill bell in second period, when I saw how fast my freshman could actually move, the real fire drill bell sounded in third period when most of my students were taking a quiz. Not a paper quiz, but using their cell phones via Socrative, my current favorite tech tool. I have been using Socrative for two months. It was introduced to me by a beginning math teacher at my school. He was struggling because he had issues related to discipline and usage, my problems have been with technology itself and actual access.
Socrative allows students' cell phones to perform as an instant response system. I love it. My students have loved it. It is pretty easy to use. It isn't always stable. We don't have a 1:1 tech ratio in my classroom so students use my cell phone and share each other’s when we do individual responses. It is important to figure out how to use tech in a classroom, especially if you are in a school like mine where the media center and the labs are all closed for testing for most the fourth nine weeks. I love Socrative best for the collaborative quizzes where kids have a 1:3 ratio with their hardware. When that happens, we are covered and engaged. We only need 8 web-functional phones to do so including mine. When we use it as individuals, we have a piece of writing or reading that we do while waiting for our turn.
When the fire drill bell rang today in the midst of our quiz, we made an executive decision to keep quizzing while heading out to the field. Kids were nervous at first, especially afraid that they would get in trouble for having their cell phones out. But they did it; they stayed in a group close to me. They kept testing. It was shocking to see the range of our Wi-Fi. It let us walk far out into the practice field behind our portables. Some teachers can't even get Wi-Fi in their classrooms since the walls are like concrete bunkers. We kept quizzing. Kids wandered over wondering we were doing. "Taking a quiz," said one of my students surprisingly happy. "Man, my teacher doesn't do that!" responded one of the kids.
When we went back into the room, we walked by a dean and one of my students said, "Look Dean B, we have our cell phones out." He didn't jump to conclusions and gave the right answer, "I am sure that you are doing something educational with Dr. Scanlon." We got right back to the business of writing and quizzing and the power went out. All of our technology was down, the AC (90 degree weather in Florida now), lights, the document camera and projector. Amazingly the Wi-Fi was still up and students finished their quizzes or shared their phone with others so they could take it. We could still write. Without our document camera, I transferred the writing assignment to the board. No matter the conditions, I was able to keep an instructional flow. It's not always this easy