I’ve been very bad about keeping up with my classroom blog this school. Not that I have not had things to share (Sorry about the double negative! I like it!), but I just seem to be so busy with planning, grading, and life in general to keep up with posting about my class. I actually feel a bit horrible about the whole thing. Especially because one of my main goals with my students this year is using blogs as digital portfolios.

August, September and October have whizzed by. And I’ve lost the chance to collect and share so many great events, feelings and lessons from this school I feel a bit sad. I’d like to go back and get the time back. I’ve thought about posting about all the things we’ve done in my room this room, but the moment has been lost and I don’t have the memory to make it right.

But… All is not lost. I can post about what is happening now. It is exciting too. So Now is the time to blog.

The school I teach in will be transitioning to more 1 to 1 computing classrooms. While I have been doing it for years, every fifth grader is slated to get a netbook device this winter in January. My class was selected a trial classroom. We will be testing the device our school has chosen. This Tuesday the devices were delivered. A fresh set of Google Chrome netbooks stacked neatly in a sturdy charging station.

My students have actually been planning on the arrival of these devices for a few weeks now. We have heard this will be happening all year, and I knew my class was a pilot group in October. Since the technology transition is a major change from the desktop computers we currently use, I asked to move a tad down the hall into a different room. I did not think having netbooks and desktops in the same classroom would be a good idea.

Well… changing rooms mid year has become kind of a big deal to my students now. We have jumped head first into the concept of recreating a 21st Century Classroom. In fact, it has developed into a class project.

Drawing from training this past summer and early fall on the philosophy of the Schlecty Center about designing experiences around work for students, I turned the project over to my students – with a bit of training and discussion about design.

Students have been collecting and drawing up ideas for the new room, and they have actually come up with some amazing ideas. Our new room will include a “chill Zone,” a “Rethink Station”, a “Game Center,” tables (not desks), newly themed display, and several other creative approaches. We did have to throw a few wild ideas away, such as lockers, and a giant plasma TV.

I have not seen my class this excited all year! Today was a half day for our school, and students used some of the time to work on creating their new learning space. I had a great time watching their ideas take shape. I must admit taking this approach has been “Very Different” for me. I’ve been a bit nervous to say the least. But, the room is starting to come together. I stood between the two rooms before leaving today. As I looked at each room I reflected on how much has changed. To my left was a room of big heavy boxes chained down by cables, and plugs. To my right was a cart about the size of one large shelf holding 22 devices the size of a one subject notebook. The space to my left was largely dictated by technical needs such as power cables. To my right the room was designed by what we wanted. I must say I liked standing to my right more than my left.

I do know the netbooks are not be the same. I have already come across several things they won’t due, so I must look at how I will change to accomodate this. But, as I realized in the process of choosing which new 1 to 1 device to use in our trial – most of what we do know is web based. And that is what the chrome book is about. It’s fast, light, has great battery life, and is designed to use the web. The web only! In fact, the operating system is just a broswer.

I’m typing this very post using one.

I will update more in the coming days as we finish up our new space, learn about our new devices and unveil our class creation next Monday.