Saturday, November 16, 2013

Technology at its Finest!

The county has purchased a computer support program for Math, called I-Ready.  Hooray! So we have been charged with getting all of our little ones on the computer and through the pre-test.  Sounds simple, right?  Not!  First the children, some who have never used a mouse before, are expected to log on to the county's system.  The county doesn't make that easy for a 5-year old.  Their username is a l-o-n-g sequence of numbers and letters.  Then their password is another l-o-n-g sequence of letters and numbers including both upper and lowercase letters.  Now it may be simple for you and me to follow a sequence of numbers and letters on a card, but for a 5-year-old that is virtually impossible!  They can't tell the l's from the 1's (did you get that? the lowercase letter l and the number 1!)  They can't tell if it's the number 0 or the letter O, not to mention not knowing how to use the shift key to make uppercase letters.  To say it's  a nightmare is an understatement.  There is a county policy barring teachers from using their own information to log all the kids in, so how in the world can this mandate be accomplished?

The good news is that once a child learns that long sequence of letters and numbers, it stays the same for the rest of their school career - thank goodness!  Having taught Kindergarten and first grade all these many years, I know it takes until about the middle of first grade, going to the lab often, before most children can actually log in independently.  Seems like the county could come up with a little simpler system for their youngest learners, doesn't it?

But Chets Creek is built for solving problems! To solve our problem with the pre-test, we invited our fifth grade partners to join us in the computer lab.  We also invited the Technologist/Media Specialist to join us.  Good thing!  We needed every single computer for our 35 students and our Technologist had made sure all were working.  However, several of the headphones were down and had to be replaced on the spot.  Had she not been with us (and she had to rearrange classes to make it happen!) those children would have lost that time and not completed the pre-test. When we first went in, the entire system was down and had she not been there to call the county and get a fix, we would have wasted an hour of our time and our fifth grade class.  That is our more normal, frustrating experience!  But today, all was right with the world, and after some initial frustration and lack of patience, all the fifth graders were able to log their kinder on and the kinders were able to work through the problems.

I am anxious to begin using this new resource in our classroom. I am trying to figure out a way to not have to log each student on, which would have me jumping up and down 35 times during each day to log in for a child. Any suggestions?  If I don't log them in myself, they will spend their entire time logging in (and maybe never hit the magic combination) and will get no time working on Math!  Also, we only have 3 computers and will find it challenging to get every kid on every day, but nonetheless, being an optimist, can't wait!

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