Today’s Contributor: Nate Vancil
I am currently in my fifth year of teaching all four core subjects to the middle school students at the Alternative Learning Center. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my beautiful wife, Alyssa, and our spoiled dog, Annie Mae. In what remains of my free-time, I play music with my good buddies “The Honeysuckle Roses”.
This school year has proven to be exciting/challenging/mind-blowing all at the same time. For as long as I can remember, the Alternative Learning Center was last-in-line for any and all technology. This made many of the initiatives rolled out by the district difficult to implement with our students. At the tail-end of last school year, we received brand-new Chromebooks, and for the first time we had dependable computers that would connect to the internet regularly, and perform the functions expected of them!
Now that we have technology functioning in our classrooms, an entirely new set of challenges must be faced. Even though our students are at an alternative campus, they are still expected to perform the same tasks as students at their home schools. One issue we have encountered is that when they are registered at the ALC, they are removed from their home campus BLEND courses, and then re-populated into ours. I work with our long-term students who will spend the entire year on our campus, but the majority of our students will only be with us for a maximum of twenty days… This time where they are removed from accessing their home campus BLEND courses can be extremely detrimental to their ability to stay engaged and on-target with their regular classwork. Thankfully, our amazing Instructional Coach, Bridgit Shorter, has begun a dialogue to resolve this issue and assist our students’ stay in digital contact with their home campuses.
But don’t get me wrong. We have seen some amazing things happening in our classrooms thanks to the connectivity afforded to us by our increase in high-quality technology. Students are becoming increasingly involved/intrigued by the possibilities with Flocabulary. Our Reading Specialist, Mr. Kim Ross, has really embraced what the digital world can do for our reluctant readers. As I walk through classrooms, I see MyOn and Mackinvia being used during our daily STIR time! As a matter of fact, as I approached one of my students who was acting extremely guilty, and trying to hide the fact that he had his earbuds in during class,(of course I assumed he was on YouTube or Soundcloud) I was immediately stoked to see that he had gotten into a book he found on Mackinvia and wanted to hear more of it read to him!
I look forward to seeing where this year will take us, and I plan on bragging about our awesome students time and time again in this blog.