The Case of the Missing Keys…

Yesterday was a hugely frustrating day for me in Grade 6, though it did not begin that way.  The classroom was buzzing- a wonderfully enthusiastic, harmonious, industrious, “we love learning” kind of buzzing.  The kids were completely engaged, soaked, just plain stoked to be working on their new Math project- creating their dream floor plans on Sweet Home 3D (a fantastic piece of free software introduced in ED 834).  This, of course, equals one happy, contented teacher…until I started wandering…and wondering.

While I had previously thought we had one, maybe two laptops with keys missing (the “J” key for example), I began to see an unfortunate trend: the majority of computers had at least one or two keys inabsentia.  Sigh! Thus began a long morning of lectures, and an eventual removal of the computers for the final two weeks of the year.  Somebody, or somebodies, had been on a mission of key removal, and no-one had seen to addressing the issue (myself included, as I was slow to catch on). It was unfortunate and disappointing, but clear that my crew of kids was not caring for our technology as they should…and a lesson needed to be learned.

It is a lesson for me, too.  I need to do a better job of monitoring the use of computers in my class. I could have helped to avoid the Case of the Missing Keys. We are very, very blessed at our school to have a computer available for each student at essentially any time of the day.  This is awesome!  However, my co-teacher and I have realized that we have failed to hold students accountable for taking care of these gifts.  Next year, instead of allowing students to help themselves to computers, we will assign students a laptop for the year, and then we will have a way to monitor their use.

I quickly realized how deeply technology is embedded in my everyday teaching.  Without computers, my lessons seem pretty dry…the first example being that instead of using this awesome, hands-on, dynamic, interactive 3D program, the kids are now completing their design on grid paper.  How completely boring!  Other assignments in progress were quickly adapted- the poems shared on VoiceThread, the documents processed on Google Documents, the cover pages on Comic Life!  Technology is a huge part of my daily experience, and this reminded me of how much it has changed my teaching practice. It truly brings so much life to the learning experience!

Anyway, I thought it would be relevant to share this reality of technology in the classroom.  I now declare The Case of the Missing Keys….CLOSED!


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