Chrome Squad- Elementary Edition (Part 3) Where to Begin With Students and Staff?
Chrome Squad Selection Done, Now What?
As with any new initiative, there are many pieces to gather and then there’s finding the best working solution for each of those pieces. I knew I was on to something with this “Chrome Squad” idea when I saw the excitement on my students’ faces but overwhelmed expressions from the adults I worked with. The kids are fearless and totally unaware of the “Behind the Scenes” work that is necessary to get a new initiative up and running. I knew putting the fragmented pieces together would be a lot of work, but I also knew that it would be worth it! Now that the Chrome Squad selection was complete, I had to take care of a few other specific pieces: communication with my principal and staff, parents, students and then begin thinking about exactly what we needed to do in those first few meetings.
First, I needed to follow up with my principal and fellow teachers. I needed their support and for them to have a full understanding of my intentions since they were typically the ones fielding some of those awkward parent questions, like “Why isn’t this offered to my kid too?”. I also wanted a chance to make my purpose very clear. I not only wanted my staff to know that my purpose was to teach a small group of kids at first to use technology in purposeful ways, but I also wanted my students to develop an outward focus to help others with what they learn so that our Chrome Squad could continue to grow.
My principal had many other questions and concerns that often times we teachers are not aware of.
How would I select my Chromies? Student selection this year was easy, they were all my students from last year, so I knew which kids had the basic character traits I was looking for. I explained to my principal that next year I would ask teachers to help me by submitting recommendations after they are made aware of our goals and behaviors I was looking for. (In my last post, I listed those specific goals and character traits.)
How would I communicate with parents and kids? I used my Gmail Contact list to communicate with parents. I was very careful to give the parents all the initial details necessary about our purpose, expectations and our schedule but I also let the parents know that I really wanted to push the content responsibility to the kids. I highly encouraged parents to help me hold my Little Chromies accountable for the content I put on Edmodo. Edmodo was the Learning Management System we were using. I ended up using Edmodo to post Chromie content to begin with because my kids already knew how to navigate through Edmodo since we used it in our classroom last year. Our building was just getting used to Google Classroom so we would transition to that later in the year as our learning management system.
Where to meet and scheduling? Initially, I had the kids meet me once a week, on Tuesdays in one of our two computer labs during their scheduled lunch and recess time. This block of time worked out best since no one reserved the labs during this time anyway and academic schedules would not be interrupted. We would clean off the tables and eat while we worked. Later on in the year, we met after school as well.
What tech resources would be used? My students either brought their own Chromebook or used one of the Chromebooks in the computer lab. We would use Google tools and basic keyboarding programs to get started.
The First Two Weeks- Goals & Skills to Build Upon
The basic plan for the first two weeks was to go over our “6 Chromie Goals” and to put together two lists, one list was a compilation of skills for us to work on as a group and the second list was of skills we noticed our friends needed help with. First, we went over expectations for our Chrome Squad and our “6 Chromie Goals” since we would refer to them frequently to justify our path and decisions to follow.
Goals and Focus
- Be kind, respectful and PRESENT (Be aware of what is going on around you!). People First. Devices Second.
- Help others to learn more about using technology in meaningful ways.
- Have a “Growth Mindset” *Book by Carol Dweck
- Be diligent but understand when others have trouble.
- Be problem solvers and creators.
- Be awesome! 🙂
Secondly, since our main focus was to learn for ourselves so we could best teach others, we created one list of skills the Chromies wanted to work on for themselves and a second list of what peers were having difficulty with during the beginning of the year, which according to our observations, was a rather short and obvious list. It was mostly logging into devices and keyboarding skills.
In the weeks to follow, we took some time to review for ourselves, a few necessary basic skills, like logging into Edmodo, Digital Citizenship, Keyboarding & personalizing their Chrome browser for more efficient academic use. I posted the directions and links to videos that I wanted the kids to use for this assignment on our Chrome Squad Edmodo page so they could work on them at home and parents could see what we were doing. My ebook- Training Your Elementary Chrome Squad coming out in June will have more specific charts, links and lists of resources, stating exactly what I found and used in my own teaching to be developmentally appropriate for our elementary students.
In my next post, I will share our next steps- setting up the procedures for “Chromie Acts of Kindness” earning Badges & Gems, revisit group & personal goals.