Monday, June 1, 2015

EdTechTeam Student Device Grant Winner David Pickett: Published Authors All Around!

I can’t imagine a better email than the one I received saying that my grant application for a class set of Chromebooks was selected. For the past several years, I have been anticipating the day my school goes 1:1. I always imagined we would be purchasing laptops, preferably Macs. But, in the past two years we have started purchasing Chromebooks in order to be ready for the CAASPP (California's State Test). I couldn’t be happier with them. They provide the functionality students need at a more reasonable price than laptops or tablets. So, I’m excited for the grant. With it, I hope to show my colleagues, administrators, parents, and district what we can do when the students have access to devices every day.

I teach 6th grade English, and my students have two periods of English, one period of Composition and one of Literature. I hope to have my students complete almost all their written work using the Chromebooks. I haven’t used it yet, but I’ve heard only good things about Google Classroom. So, I plan to have students use it to submit all their work. My district already has Google Apps accounts set up for my students, so it should be an easy transition. 

One of my goals for my students is for them to be published authors. For the past four years my students have participated in National Novel Writing Month. It’s a program that attempts to get adults and students to write a novel in the month of November. My students spend the last week of October planning an outline of their novel. Then, they spend every day in November writing. Each day I teach a short lesson about a writing strategy, and then the students practice using that technique as they write their novel. The students set a word count goal for the month and have written between three and twenty thousand words in past years. After the students finish writing, revising, and editing their novels, I compile them and publish them in a book using createspace.com. Because createspace is owned by Amazon, our books our for sale on Amazon. The students bring in money and I order copies for them. My goal is for them to realize that they can be published authors and to spark their interest in writing.

A few new (to me) tools I’m considering using next year are remind.com (to sent text messages with due date reminders to students) and Class Dojo (to help with class management). I also signed up for a free trial of Net Support School. It’s software that allows the teacher to monitor the screens of a classroom of Chromebooks. I’ve used Remote Desktop in the past with Macs, and found it to be a great tool for making sure students are staying on task. I look forward to hearing what the other teachers receiving the grant plan to use.  

After hearing about the grant, I looked in to professional development that I could attend this summer. I signed up for a week-long class at Stanford’s Summer Teaching Institute called “Transforming Teaching with Technology.” I’m excited to have a week without distractions to get ideas and make plans for making the best use of the Chromebooks. Like every student and teacher, I’m looking forward to the summer off. But, I’m also excited to engage my students in reading and writing while using the Chromebooks next school year.

David Pickett is a 6th grade English teacher at Ralston Middle School in Belmont, CA, where he also serves as a technology leader and head of the English Department. He grew up in Fresno, CA and was lucky to have a series of great elementary school teachers. In particular, his 6th grade teacher made the year fun and educational by using project based learning. My favorite project was one in which we created our own businesses and sold products from a refrigerator box “store.” That teacher inspired me to become a teacher. 

The EdTechTeam Student Device Grant application is open! We review and award quarterly. Submit your proposal here.

24 comments:

  1. Well Done! I am writing my proposal now :) Wishing your students-authors, all the very best!

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