Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tech Fail

"Boys and girls, today we are going to explore the app Talking Tom Cat, an app that we'll be able to use often.  I bet some of you are familiar with this app.  What do you know about the app?"  And so began my well-planned Guided Discovery.  Until we discovered that, after an hour and a half, the app had only downloaded on a handful of the iPods.  Although I had wanted my students to explore this app, I quickly provided them with another option, to explore Doodle Buddy.  Again it was only downloaded on a few iPods, and the disappointment was growing amongst my students.

Tech fails happen.  The wireless can shut down or slow down.  Access can suddenly be blocked.  Batteries can die in the midst of an engaging project.And when it does, I have found a few things helpful.  Remain calm.  Having integrated technology into my classroom for a number of years now, one thing I have come to expect is that it rarely goes as planned.    "Boys and girls, it looks like it's taking a while to download on the devices.  That's okay.  Let's take a look at Doodle Buddy."  Remaining calms shows our students that we can not only expect the unexpected, but that we can beyond a disappointment and try something else. It's good to have a backup plan, but even if you don't you can still try something else.  On this particular day I chose Doodle Buddy.  It would have provided me with a slight alteration in how I was going to provide the choices that day, but what can you do?

Not everyone is going to agree with me on this, but...when all else fails let them play"Okay everyone, there must be a problem with the wireless, and we won't be able to do what was planned today.  We will try again tomorrow.  In the meantime, explore one app that has gone unnoticed before and be ready to share about it."  I have discovered over the years that once a huge tech disappointment has occurred, no matter how calm you remain, it can create problems throughout the day.  The kiddos just had this expectation to be working with tech, you got them all pumped up about it, and now you're going to rip it out of their hands?  All it takes is one to two minutes for them to explore something else and an additional three to five for them to share.  In the end they feel fulfilled and they were able to become the new expert in the class on a particular application.  Not to mention that they have now added to their "I'm done, now what?" list!

Thankfully, the next day Talking Tom Cat downloaded on 90% of the devices and the children were able to produce their multiplication stories. Talking Tom Cat was a choice, but they all choose to use it.  It provided a great opportunity for us to talk about everything that I had initially planned in the Guided Discovery.  Not to mention the conversations we had about fluency and rate.  This app has now become something the kiddos use to create videos for themselves: they read their multiplication facts into it & listen to them repeatedly.  It may be lower level on Bloom's but, it is making a difference for those who have chosen to do this!