Preparing the Digital Classroom For The New School Year

Next week, my new year six class will be arriving back at school, and one of my first jobs will be to prepare them for what will be an exciting, year-long learning journey that tests the boundaries of using (purposeful) technology in education. However, if those confines are going to be stretched efficiently, then a small amount of preperation  and organisation needs to take place beforehand – here is a short guide on what I plan to do:

  • To start with, I will conduct a frank discussion about social networking, cyber bullying, pros and cons of using tech in the classroom and talk about Acceptable Use. Following this discussion, I will ask all students, there and then sign the schools AUP; making it clear that effective use of the wonderful tools we have at our disposal also demand a serious amount of mutual respect and trust.
  • Organise my classes on Edmodo. This simply involves archiving last years classes and creating new groups that my new classes and relevant staff join with the relevant code.
  • Survey the devices that pupils have and are able to bring to school (in my classroom, personal iPads would be the most useful device, further up the school in secondary, laptops may be more appropriate).
  • Establish and record an email address for all students (last year, I noted students personal emails – this year, we have established school email addresses for everyone – which should make life easier.
  • Establish a shared folder on Dropbox/Skydrive and invite students to join. This proved to be a revolutionary move last year. We hardly used the school server at all and work no longer mysteriously disappeared. Students learnt to organise their files properly and could easily access work on any device, at home or at school. This year I will also ask students to download CloudOn. This enables editing Dropbox documents in Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint.
  • Ensure that our class blog is ready to go (all users subscribed with correct user-rights, design, widgets etc)
  • Organise a class twitter account! This is something I have not done before and would appreciate some advice – I know there are a few Primary Classes throughout the world that are doing this and I will be contacting them to see what they are doing!

I will try and complete all these tasks as a matter of priority over the first couple of days of term. As simple as it is to write the tasks down, actually getting 32 Year Six pupils to accept invites, remember log in details etc, can make things a little more complicated. What makes it all worth while though is remembering how last years Year Six left primary school as tech savvy, proactive, independent learners with a whole host of tech tools up their sleeve through which they could portray their endless creativity.