Saturday, November 23, 2013

That's How I Roll - back up plans

So technology is wonderful and most of the time helps my classes run smoothly. But then there are days there is no technology to be had. I ask that my teachers email me if they can remember to let me know if something isn't working so I can be prepared. Want to know how many actually do that?

One. Thank you Mrs. Casebolt!

The last two weeks I've walked into a third grade room only to be told the light on the projector is out so nothing computer related can be done. And then on top of that the speakers weren't working when I tried to plug in my iphone. And there's another teacher who likes to take her laptop home so when she's out I don't have anything connected to the SMART board (in this case I usually frantically unplug another teacher's laptop and plug it in but then I get to spend precious minutes of my lunch returning it and plugging it back in.)

So what to do when technology fails you? A reboot just leads to the same blank screen? The SMART board projector has gone dark? Take a few deep breaths, give the kids a quick task to practice their conversation in Spanish, and quickly devise a new plan.

One of the few good things about being on a cart (and there are only a few) is that if the problem is isolated to one computer or SMART board you only have to deal with it for 30 minutes and then you're onto the next room. But it's still always a good idea to have a back up plan just in case.
  • Teach new vocabulary with picture cards, gestures or your awesome art skills on the whiteboard. Have students brainstorm with you the best gesture for a new word.Or take a screen shot of your prezi or print out your power point slides and keep extra copies just in case you need to pass them out.
  • Keep a stock of vocabulary cards to be used in impromptu games - manos rápidos, Go Fish, I have/I need, Spoons, Four Corners, Concentration. No cards? Students can race to play Pictionary on the board. Board races that work like Scattergories where students race to fill in words based on a category are a favorite with my students. Or play I Spy With My Little Eye. 
  • Have students line up or stand in a circle. They practice their conversation with the person standing across from them. After a certain time one line or circle moves and they speak with a new person. 
  • Fast Finisher Folder stocked with worksheets, word searches and word scrambles. 
  •  I keep a CD and DVD of my songs on the cart if I can't pull them up on youtube. I also have songs loaded on my phone so all I have to do is plug into speakers.
These of course are all options during your regular class time as well. But it's good to keep them in mind when you realize that awesome youtube video you were planning on using that day isn't available. Or you're starting a new unit and you have a lot of new vocab to teach and no pictures to teach them with. Sometimes I feel that teaching is very similar to doing improv. You got to take the scenario you're given and roll with it. You can always circle back to your original plan later when the technology is working.

What are some of your go-to activities when your technology isn't working?

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