Chapter 2: Getting Started with Digital Writing in My Classroom
2.3 What Technology Devices Should I Use?
In my traditional writing workshop format, tool accessibility has never been an issue. The students bring some of our writing tools from home from our school supply list and some of the tools I purchase with school money. By spending the time during our writing workshop to discuss how we use and care for these tools we are able to continue to use them for the entire school year and sometimes they carry over year to year. However, digital writers need devices and devices are much more expensive to purchase and maintain.
As I looked around my classroom, I had two desktop computers for twenty-two students and I was discouraged! I knew there would be excitement for the students to have their own blogging site and they would all want to be engaged right away. We are fortunate in my building to have a computer lab with flexible scheduling.
Flexibility was key in making our work successful.
We are also fortunate to have a cart of Chromebooks for fifth and fourth grade with a cart of netbooks often used by the intermediate grades but could be borrowed at other grade levels. I started considering these options and decided based on accessibility and our familiarity with a device, going to the computer lab would be the best option. We had done some work earlier in the year with the laptops in the computer lab and I wanted to have some comfort for my students with our new adventure.
Looking back, I realized going to the computer lab was not only comfortable for my students but it was also comfortable for me. When trying new things with my students, I have found having a familiarity or a basic comfort level alleviates some of my own anxiety. I don’t need to know all the answers but being able to problem solve without panic is helpful. When I thought about trying to borrow the Chromebooks or the netbooks, I realized I had never used one and that might be too much learning for me to take on right then.
When I looked at the computer lab schedule it was pretty full. Going during writing workshop wasn’t an option. Sometimes I find it easy to get into a mindset that our schedule has to stay the same but in reality it wasn’t going to work for our digital writing launch. We had to be flexible and rearrange our typical daily schedule. The beauty and pure joy of a flexible computer lab schedule meant we could go three consecutive days to accomplish our writing and each day we were there at different times. Flexibility was key in making our work successful.