Saturday, January 24, 2009

1:1 classroom, at last

This just kind of snuck up on me. I've fantasized over the years about a 1:1 computer/student ratio in my third grade classroom. Yesterday it happened.

I've had lots of computers for the kids to work on recently, but there has always been this 1/2 on - 1/2 off dance that I've done to do to give all the kids equal access. This is clearly one of the biggest obstacles facing classroom teachers when they consider how they'll use their handful (if they're lucky) of computers. I've worked hard to have more than a handful lately, but I do remember those days. On the right is our ONE, in 1994....

On Friday I took a few minutes to outline three writing options they had. The goal was publication of articles on their blogs or comments on other blogs. So I sent them to their computers:
  • 12 went to Dell multimedia desktops, nice ones
  • 4 went to Dell Latitude laptops, wireless of course
  • 5 went to XO laptops

XO recess chatThe tough part was deciding which students should get the XO's. Most of the kids would like to use them, but I chose those who I thought could write the best off the tops of their heads, without being able to rely on pulling previously written work from their folders on our server, and without the benefit of all the help of MS Word - autocorrect, spellcheck, etc, etc. They almost always write in Word first, and then copy/paste to their blogs. The XO's do have a Linux version of Firefox, so at least they have a basic spellchecker...

New Literacy?So they wrote. They revised, they brainstormed, they drafted, they rewrote, they edited, and they published. Not a single pencil or piece of paper was used in the process. And they were in a third grade classroom in a public school.

I know this happens elsewhere, but I've got to say it was a rewarding time when it came to my classroom. I believe the kids get it too.

Although several kids also wrote about other things, these were the three topical writing options I gave them:


Anonymous said...

My only hope is that, thirty years from now, we are not a nation of people with both arms ruined by carpal tunnel syndrome, backs hunched beyond repair and vision impaired by staring at screens constantly. I applaud your efforts in teaching the use of todays technology. I only would hope we are watching out for the future of our little ones as well.

Jeff said...

Congrats Mark! Looking forward to catching up with you at NCCE in a couple weeks and hearing all about it. If I bring my XO you'll have to show me some tricks. :)

Anonymous said...

Mark, sure hope to see you at NCCE. I am teaching my students (eighth graders) the internet and use of the computer.
We study those subjects five minutes per each month. They have all learned how to turn on the computer and our second half of the year (Febuery 2009) i shall teach them how to not only turn on the computer, but how to turn it off.
So far my class has a c average with only six of the eighteen students failing the course. Tomorrows technology depends on todays learning. I have been teaching the course for seven years and it is amazing how sucessuful the program has been.
You friend, Barbara

Anonymous said...

Hi Mark

I was glad to see you finally get your 1:1. I am leaving a grade 5 class where we are 1:2 and we find it difficult to do all the things we want. Any suggestions for us on how to get our admin to go 1:1.

Mark Ahlness said...

On the question of how to get an admin to go 1:1 - I have no idea. Of the 22 computers in my classroom, my school district provided 2. Good luck - Mark

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Mark! I hope you find your 1:1 classroom liberating and powerful. I got 2:1 thin clients this year. I found they provide great, daunting potential. My 3rd graders love to use the computers, but still need lots of guidance and support. We visited your students' blogs when we started blogging last month. You are our model for using Classblogmeister.
I chose a 2:1 ratio rather than 1:1 because I figured they could help each other with the technology. That is is mostly true. Now it think anything less than 1:1 makes individual assignments and blogging tricky. 2:1 is better than 1 computer per classroom, but I think you are living the dream with 1:1. :)