Sunday, October 12, 2014

I have Googley EYES

The EXCEL foundation has awarded
over one million dollars in grant money
to Coeur d'Alene classrooms since 1986
I just found out that the EXCEL Foundation is supporting my proposal for classroom Chromebooks! I'll have one device for every three students. I figure that will give me enough technology to create a successful rotation plan for student use. I called my grant proposal "Googley EYES (Exploration Yields Extraordinary Students)". I want my students to explore their passions and take control of their learning. Here's the project summary from my proposal to give you an idea of what I have in mind.

“Self education is, I believe, the only education there is.”

-Isaac Asimov 

Great things come from exploring a passion. Imagine a classroom where students spend 20% of their time in class solving problems and investigating ideas that matter to them. When Google incorporated this 20% time into engineers’ work days, it resulted in innovations like gMail and Google News. Math students will generate questions that cannot be answered with a simple Internet search to guide their 20% time. These questions could involve a problem that could be solved by collecting and analyzing mathematical data or a student may choose to research and practice a mathematical concept of interest. Students will create a presentation, record a video, or otherwise creatively share the results of these “passion projects.” 

Students will have at least two chances during the school year to choose and complete a passion project. Although not all projects will require the use of a computing device, I want to have enough devices available in my classroom so each student can spend at least one class period each week working online to complete the project. In addition to passion projects, math students will also use the Chromebooks to research, organize data, and present solutions to real world math problems throughout the school year such as comparing the cost of the traditional “12 Days of Christmas” gifts to currently popular products.  
Reading and writing is all about communication. Authors have a conversation of sorts when their audience reads and thinks about their work. The audience for student writing has often been limited to the students’ teachers and classmates. Using Chromebooks and Google Documents will allow students to find a larger audience for their work. Students will publish a book review blog and receive and respond to comments from their readers. In addition, they will work together with digital pen pals from another school to revise and edit each others’ work using the commenting features of Google Documents.
These math and language arts activities will give students more control over their learning and equip them with the tools to be life-long learners. In addition, all of the documents they create on the Chromebooks are available on any Internet-connected device, so students can use work in class as a jumping-off point for further investigations at home. Through increased autonomy and experience in using powerful, cloud-based tools, students will be self-directed learners who are eager to learn at school and beyond!
I want to publicly thank the EXCEL foundation for all the good they do for our schools! This is the fourth project they have supported for my classroom, but my students have benefited from art, music, P.E., counseling, and other classroom projects supported by EXCEL. It's terrific to have a local foundation that will put money behind new ideas in our school district!

The order for the Chromebooks goes out on Monday and I hope to have them in my room by the end of the month. I'm excited about all the possibilities this will open up for my kids. And I'll keep you updated as I continue to experiment and refine...

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