Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

From One Computer Lab to 1:1 – Best Practices of Technology Integration by Katie Bader and Diane Bilcer

These are my notes from Katie Bader and Diane Bilcer’s presentation, “From One Computer Lab to 1:1 – Best Practices of Technology Integration” at the One to One Institute‘s conference on November 9, 2009 conference in Chicago, Illinois. MY THOUGHTS ARE IN ALL CAPS. I recorded this session and may share it as a podcast later. SOMEHOW THIS POST ENDED UP IN MY BLOG “DRAFTS” FOLDER AND WAS NEVER PUBLISHED, SO I AM PUBLISHING IT NOW!

Presenters: 5th grade teachers Katie Bader and Diane Bilcer, from Avoca District 37, Glenview, Illinois

Been doing this process since 2004

What makes our practices “best practices?”
– initiative larger than any one person
– staff has adapted teaching styles to incorporate technology
– commitment to professional development
– student test scores have continued to improve

score improvements have been DRASTIC
– not all of that can be attributed to technology, but it has definitely helped

Core parts of our program, thought about like we would with ANY type of curricular initiative
– content
– instructional strategies
– classroom management
– organizational structure
– program effectiveness
– student learning
– more…

10 years ago we were pretty traditional: one lab for 24 classrooms
– 1 teacher computer per classroom
– one scheduled lab time for the week
tech activities were:
– primarily word processing
– not meaningfully linked to curriculum
– usually tedious because they took forever to complete
– not designed to develop technology skills in a meaningful way
– sample project: Explorer Fandex

Our first tech plan
– was to begin 2004, through 2007
– our vision was very important: faculty went 1:1 first
– we went 2:1 in the elementary
– middle school and faculty went 1:1
– year 2: 5th grade went 1:1
– year 3: 4th grade went 1:1, take home pilo

We proceeded with the following mindset, which was critical
– take the process one step at a time
– make modifications to plan as necessary
– evaluate continuously (formally and informally)

The 2:1 Experience in year one
– made preparations for 2:1
— additional tables in the classroom
— one cart available for when we wanted 1:1
— one crystal projector for our team to share

– integration progressed
— split class between tech and non-tech lessons
— sample project: learning to copy and past with Word/World Book online for research
— new obstacles to overcome: slow response of network, kids dropping off, laptop cart not as spontaneous as we needed
– Year 1 reflection: we were ready for 1:1

laptop carts are not spontaneous, they are challenging to manage
– after the 2:1 experience, we found we really WANTED 1:1
– we were ready, we had internalized and seen so much

What we learned: Staff was surveyed about their experiences
– three key findings
1- time to play and experiment was the single most important thing: staff felt this was the most effective strategy for becoming comfortable with new technology
2- staff: teachers benefited from staff that promoted learning and encouraged experimentation
3- equipment that works: nothing is more frustrating than having a lesson ready and having technology fail!

The way it is now
– grades 4-8
— 1:1 with take-home privileges
— grade 4: 1:1, no take-home
Grades K-3
– Promethian boards for all
– lab for Encore Tech Class
– centers in classroom (four desktops in 1st grade, six in second and third grade classrooms)
– infrastructure: increased wireless access, networked printers distributed around building

We set the expectation at the start that the laptop goes home EVERY night

Big piece of take home: charging the laptops each night
– also we didn’t want to use class time for students to type MS Word documents

Parents do pay a yearly tech fee

To access their families network at home, they choose their local network, and then students log into the school’s VPN so they are still filtered on their home/other networks

We don’t have backpacks for student laptops at this point
We do use Macs

We have ramped up the ways technology is used to support learning across all grade levels and content areas

The 2 C’s
– a highlight is the COLLABORATION and COMMITMENT to the common goal of seamless and effective technology integration

Who does what: Administration, Tech Team, Teachers
– administration: vision, reasonable expectations
— time to play
— flexibility with classroom usage
— constant reflection

Teacher input has been so important throughout the entire process
– our committees always include board members, teachers, administrators, and parents

– Tech Team: facilitators
— help with integration, curriculum, and in class support
— encourage new ideas
— stay current and work with teachers to stay current

– Specialists (technicians)
— hardware, software
— keeps equipment up to date and always there to help

Some parents were worried about their kids handling the responsibility
– some are still computer-phobic
– many excited that another computer was coming home that they didn’t have to pay for

We did a “5th grade tech night” for parents this year
– did some troubleshooting then with parents
– our specialists help parents with VPN logins
– our community tends to be middle and upper class, but we do have some lower income families and have talked about providing ways for lower income students to get high speed Internet

If kids can’t get online at home to Google Docs, they can use MS Word and then upload it to Google Docs when they get to school

Our sense is that 3rd grade is too young for full 1:1 with take home privileges
– mobile labs are working well with younger grades

What are teachers doing?
– willingness to change in your classroom is KEY
— to a tech mindset
— appreciate the value of technology

– desire to learn
— open and ready to dive into a tech classroom
— experiment with new programs and web for lessons

– flexibility: handle the quirks of technology

– good role model: problem solver, patient with technology, explorer, responsible with equipment

A Day in the Life of Teachers
– instructional technology: think “how can I work tech in?”
— now this becomes second nature (over time)

– within-software modifications
– audio books
– software geared to target strengths / different learning styles
– organizational tools: stickies, inspiration, etc.
– type vs handwrite

Classroom management: daily routines and responsibilities
– at the start of the day, students show their power charge on the back demonstrating they are charged and ready for the day

A taste of tech activities
– Big idea: tech has moved from an ‘extra’ to an integrated part of instruction
– write arounds
– editing papers
– Book Blurbers blog (students write short book reviews each month)
– annotate articles on Word
– digital storytelling
– outline and graphic organizers in Inspiration
– science simulation via Internet
– digital microscopes
– research notes using Word Notebook
– Google Docs
– Podcasts
– Audio notecards on Garageband
– Tech components to adopted curriculum

When we setup Google for our school, they can exchange files and share documents but not email
– we have our own Google domain, our specialists setup students accounts, we didn’t have to worry with that

We had drop boxes for file sharing before we were using Google Docs

A day in the life of students
Three keys to student success
1- high expectations
2- responsibilities
3- ownership

Increased student collaboration
– students teaching students, students teaching teachers
– kinds on overhead projector
– Google Docs and public folders on network

focus on teaching ownership and responsibility is VERY important

Moving to a 1:1 environment has moved tech from the periphery to an integral part of the lives of students

Katie Bader: baderk [at]

Diane Bilcer: bilcerd [at]


Started with a VERY cumbersome ePortfolio system, not using an ePortfolio system
– reflection and evaluation is a constant part of what we do

Dealing with off-task behavior strategies
– think of this in terms of off-task behavior with any other type of lesson
– use lots of similar strategies and consequences for non-digital off-task behavior
– a lot of times when “my computer is not working” is because students have done something

– we had tons at the start
– now we just have a couple of days per year
– we have a strong mentoring program
– new teachers get a day of “meet your computer”
– we do have continuous and ongoing PD and support

Have used Enguage Model (5 part model)

We have 1 hour of planning per day, to plan with other teachers
– our schedule is very unique for elementary schools, our schedule is more like what you’d find in secondary schools
– this planning hour is IN ADDITION to our personal planning hour per day
– this is critical, and really makes this work

School district is constantly looking for ways to assess teachers who are or are not using technology
– our administration and board seem pretty content, but the assessment question is always in the background

We had a 4th grade teacher last year that, after Will Richardson came to our district, got committed to going paperless in our classroom
– we find that some paper is still important / needed

Each teacher has his/her own blog
– we send confidential info about field trips, etc via email to parents

At Middle School they are using the PowerGrade system as a parent portal
– we technically still have a homework hotline for parents, but that is not used much
– our district has become paperless for parent communication: no paper goes home to parents


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