Reflection on Brian Crosby’s Obstacles to Opportunities Keynote

In my response to this session I am going to tackle the question that Brian asks at the end: “What obstacles could you and your students overcome with these new tools (to help us transform schools)?” Since I am the Technology Lead Teacher in my role in the elementary school I can add, “What obstacles can I, the teachers and students overcome with these new tools to help transform teaching and learning?”

There are never enough resources… I work in a community that has underwritten technology as heavily as any school setting I know, emphasizing professional development and support as well as necessary hardware and software. Some obstacles we might overcome:
1. Obstacle: Lack of electronic white boards or “SMART Boards”. While we are not eligible for grants for these white boards (and we can’t fund them out of our decreasing annual budgets)
Opportunity: We have moved from one LCD projector in our grades 2-4 school that was secured in the lab to an additional 8 projectors on carts or secured in ceilings by using grants from National Semiconductor and decreasing our printing expenses and we hope to increase by 3 more this year. Why projectors? Our teachers have had iBooks for 4 years and are very comfortable sharing resources with students and having students present using the projector. If we can get to one projector in every one of our 15 classrooms then teachers truly will have the anytime option to assimilate technology into the classroom as described by Derek Wenmoth. We have found that the projectors have increased student engagement in curricula which is one of our district goals.
2. Obstacle: Lack of teachers taking advantage of professional learning courses and opportunities to learn web 2.0 tools.
Opportunity: Teachers are working in collegial teams to support each other in new learning and expand their skills so that all students have the chance to participate in digital formats of communicating and displaying learning.
3. Obstacle: Lack of laptops for students in grades 2-4. Classes use a computer lab once a week with the classroom teacher and myself planning a lesson that integrates with the curriculum.
Opportunity: The high school purchases laptops for 9th graders who use them through the 12th grade. At the end of those 4 years enough of the laptops are still useable that they are sent to the middle and elementary schools. Last year we had 2 carts of 24 iBooks for use by the ten 3rd and 4th grade classes. This year we will have 48 more iBooks and teachers are participating in the decision to leave whole class sets on carts or split one cart into a couple in every classroom for anytime use. The combination of a projector and a small set of laptops has been very powerful in a few pilot classrooms.

I look forward to finding other “obstacles” that I can try to turn into “opportunities” for our students.

One thought on “Reflection on Brian Crosby’s Obstacles to Opportunities Keynote

  1. Cathy: Thanks for the comment on my blog and your post. The new school year is about to begin which means new obstacles to overcome … it’s all exciting and daunting!

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