Stay Ahead of Issues by Connecting with IT Support
Angela Abend works in the PROJECT EXTRA gifted and enrichment program for children grade 4–6 in New York's Oceanside School District, where her students participate in a one-to-one technology program that utilizes Chromebooks and Google Classroom. They Skype with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) leaders and world-renowned authors, and work with a fully functioning Makerspace learning environment that includes design and creation tools such as Dash and Sphero coding robots, the Bloxels video game creation platform, LittleBits electronic building blocks, and Makey Makey invention kits.
Abend connected with her district's instructional technology specialist to review everything she'd need to know to further navigate through the district's one-to-one initiative. She recommends that all teachers think of their school's IT staff as their partners, and that they get to know them. That way, "if you do need to contact them in a pinch, they already know the back story of what you hope to accomplish," and it's easier for them to tackle the issue.
Still, when any of the technology components she relies on stop working and fixing it is beyond her control—and IT isn't available—out come goodies from her preplanned bag of tricks. "Large graph paper and red Solo cups, for example, can take the place of a computerized coding lesson" Abend wrote. She also downloads videos and presentations to her hard drive beforehand, in case the Internet goes down, and lets her students use their own smartphones if there's a problem with school equipment.