What I learned on 11-30-12

Despite the fact that I stayed home from school today, I was available to my technology students as if I were right there with them. I did this through the DyKnow application that has been installed on all of the tablets at my school. It wasn’t the first time I’ve used DyKnow, but it was the first time I’ve used it with my freshmen, and the first time I’ve enabled the chat tool from home to communicate with the kids. I was actually quite impressed with how effective the process seemed to be as learning tool. I began the class by broadcasting my message to all of their tablets – that they should open their email to access today’s assignment. I was able to watch the monitors of my 24 students as they accessed their network folders and began working. I sent another message to the group letting them know that I would be monitoring their progress and that they shouldn’t hesitate to message me if they had a problem. Since this was the first time my freshmen had ever experienced my “absence” I think they were pretty excited about the new technology. They all started typing in response. “Hi Mrs. K.” “Whatcha doin’?” “Hey”

I didn’t respond to any of that because I wanted to set the tone that we weren’t “chatting”. Within the first five minutes one of my students sent me a question about why she couldn’t get her chart to show up in Excel. I was thrilled with the question because the student was one who has been struggling for a while, but has NEVER asked me a question in class before. I responded privately to ask if she had selected the data to include in the chart. She said yes, but since I was able to observe everyone’s monitors I could see that she had not. I tried for a few minutes to explain what she was doing incorrectly, without success (as indicated by what I was seeing.) After a few minutes, I messaged another one of my students privately (who I had seen was finished with that portion) and asked if she could please help explain the problem to her classmate. I saw within a couple of minutes that the problem had been resolved, and I blackened the latter student’s screen for three seconds and to send her a message with big white letters that said THANK YOU!

What I learned today is that because some of my students may not be comfortable with letting their classmates know they don’t understand something, it’s a good idea to provide some alternative ways for them to address the problem with me. I plan to speak with those students when I return on Monday, to let them know that they can email me (or chat if they’d prefer) to ask questions if they’re more comfortable doing so.