Wednesday, May 30, 2012

TECHNOLOGY and the BASES Classroom

By:  Sue Fuller - guest Blogger

‘Buzz in BASES’ BLOG was born on September 1, 2011 at a Professional Development workshop .  I was a new staff member to Sullivan Heights and had heard that it had been one of the schools which had received the Technology Grant.  We were asked to put forth a personal technology goal to the school’s IT person.  I was surrounded by a combination of colleagues whom were quite well versed with Twitter, BLOGS, Wikis and webpages and others who didn’t seem to have very many skills in the area of technology.  I would have to say that my abilities were probably right between the two groups.  I was affected, however, by the enthusiasm and encouragement that was almost palpable in the room.  This became infectious to me and I decided that my goal would be to create a class BLOG and become a Twitter member. 

         Fortunately for me, the colleague sitting next to me; Alyssa Becker was very skilled with her use of technology.  I told her about my idea of creating a class BLOG and that I wanted to call it ‘Buzz in BASES’.  Within a few short minutes, she was able to create the BLOG page and post the very first BLOG!  I would write the BLOG entries for the next few months and Alyssa would post them on the BLOG.  Then, a quick tweet would follow that alerted Twitter followers that the BLOG was up.  At the beginning of 2012, I took the plunge and ‘Buzz in BASES’ was passed along to me and I began to post!  Looking back now, I’m not sure why I was so nervous about posting and managing the BLOG as it is fairly straightforward.   I am grateful to my colleague; Alyssa who took the lead initially.  Nicole Painchaud; IT Teacher has been along for the ride and has often troubleshot when I have needed it.  

         Buzz in BASES blog has taken on a life of its own since its birth.  It has been an ideal vehicle for the BASES Teachers to communicate to parents and inform them of the activities and events in the BASES class.  I wouldn’t be able to count the number of times I have referred a parent to our blog for the purpose of conversation starters with their children.  The BLOG shows classroom themes and ongoing projects.  It often includes excerpts from students in the ‘Students Speak’ area.  Subscribers to our BLOG have even posted personal comments for our students, which has been exciting for them.  On our BLOG, we have the opportunity to display student work and include highlights in BASES from one week to the next.  There is also a ‘Teacher’s Corner’ which I found to be invaluable!  As educators, there are so many moments which move us and inspire us and I was able to capture some moments in writing.  They are on the BLOG so won’t be forgotten.  We have included our favourite recipes from our cooking and baking programs.  Having a class BLOG keeps me conscientious of finding the balance between sharing and showing the efforts of our students and maintaining the integrity of our students. 

When it came time to report writing, I had multiple pieces of information in written form to refer to, just from writing BLOG entries.  Finally, information about upcoming field trips and community outings is shared.  Most importantly, Buzz in BASES allows subscribers to catch a glimpse into the wide variety of learning and fun we have on a daily ‘basis’. 
I would strongly encourage any teacher who has thought of creating a class BLOG to take the plunge!  It is something that I look back on with pride.  The students love it and the parents appreciate it!  ‘Buzz in BASES’ will always remain at Sullivan Heights.  BASES students have taken ownership of it.  They are the ‘buzz’ in the classroom!

Ipads and the BASES Classroom
The BASES classroom was given 2 ipads to use.  Another one of my professional technology goals was to become familiar with and be able to use an ipad.  Students quickly showed me that they were quite savvy with the ipads and were way beyond my scope.  I had no choice but to catch up and gain some ipad skills.  One of the first things that is done in the morning when students arrive to the BASES class is to take the ipads out of the cupboard and put them on the table to be ready for use.  Some of the areas which the ipads have been used for are:
  • calculator feature for Math
  • perusing our class BlOG;
  • you tube, Fruit/Veggie Ninja, other games during Brain Breaks
  • Science experiments; searching for information
  • Current Affairs/News Stories;  searching for and reading news
  • reading stories during Silent Reading Times
  • having stories read to student (for nonverbal/non reading students)
  • research purposes-for various class projects
  • internet surfing-information gathering
  • field trip planning
  • virtual field trips

The ipads have been invaluable tools in the BASES class.  It has shown a commonality among our special needs students and their peers.  It has levelled the playing field for them by demonstrating that BASES students are equally as talented with technology and its use.

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