Sunday, September 4, 2011

First week of school

The beginning of the school year is always exhausting. It is so important to be intentional at every turn with a new class of students. The first weeks are all about carefully establishing routines that will (hopefully) carry us through the year. This fall is especially challenging for me: after nine glorious years teaching part time in a job share, my youngest child has started Kindergarten and I have returned to full time teaching. I was so lucky to be able to work in my chosen profession and have time at home with my small children. Now it's the beginning of a new era for me professionally...

We had three days of school this week. I used the iPad instead of an oldish classroom digital camera and took pictures while my class was doing community building activities. I have always included photos in the Friday News I send home each week to parents so taking pictures is nothing new. Given that the camera I was working with would take what seemed like an excessive amount of time to process one photo before being available to take a second, the iPad is a refreshing improvement. I also won't have to deal with batteries that don't hold a charge, etc.

Getting the pictures "off" the iPad was a bit of a drama. I know there are other ways to do it, but I really wanted to stick with strategies I am comfortable with for now and email the photos to myself so I could download them. Also, I like the idea of a student having the ability to email a photo they take or are featured in to their parents so I wanted to work any kinks out of this process. The challenge in emailing pictures came because I switched my email password a couple weeks ago and even though I tried to update it in my iPad settings, the iPad wouldn't accept the new password. From talking with others, this seems to be a glitch with the iPad for unknown reasons. The problem was solved by deleting that account and setting up a classroom email account on the iPad. I had already been planning to do this. Now, if a student gets into the mail app when using the iPad, they won't have access to either my personal email or my school email that may contain confidential info.

In the next two weeks as community building continues in my class, I plan to have students take pictures of each other for an as yet unplanned class display. (Unplanned because I have just switched grade levels. I taught third and fourth grade for the past five years and am now teaching fifth and sixth. The good news is I don't feel locked into the curriculum as I've taught it for the past umpteen years. On the other hand, I can't just pull out what I have been doing and do it all over again.) This will be the opportunity to introduce the iPad to the class and teach everyone how to take photos with it. I would also like to enlist their help taking photos and documenting our year together. First I have to teach the kids how to handle this new gadget and make sure no one is going to drop it on my uncarpeted floors. Wish me luck!

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