A new class used the Chromebooks this week. They hadn’t used them before, so I was a little concerned that things wouldn’t go too well. I could picture frustrated teachers pulling the hair out and declaring their love for the way things used to be when we used slate boards in them nineteenth century days. And the children putting their fists angrily through each of the Chromebook screens.
There are two problems with using Chromebooks. The first is remembering your username and password. The second is being able to type on them properly.
Remembering, spelling and typing are all things that primary school children are getting better at. Eight year-olds in particular – there are so many other things to worry about you see, like television and, well, what’s on television.
And this class in particular is a concern. With five statemented children and a further twelve on the special needs register, remembering instructions, spelling accurately and typing quickly have all been problems in the past.
The teacher had planned a week with a musical theme, using Rising Stars, Switched on ICT scheme of work – the Year 4 unit “We Are Musicians”. The children were going to compose songs by the end of the week, using a website called Jamstudio.
All sorts of barriers – would the Chromebooks work? Would there be enough bandwidth for 30 children to edit audio? Would they remember their usernames? Would they actually learn anything about music?
I held my breath.
And it was with some relief that today I found out that everything is going extremely well. Speaking to the teacher went something like this:
Me: How did it go?
Teacher: How did what go?
Me: You know, the music thing?
Teacher: Oh fine. They composed mood songs today. You should have heard Cory [statemented for ASD] he kept saying “I composed 7 songs today.”
Me: Yes, but how did the Chromebooks work?
Teacher: Yeah, great. The children all listened to each others songs at the end. We put them through the class loudspeakers and they had to guess whether it was a sad mood song or a happy mood song…
Me: No problem with the Chromebooks cutting out? – all the children could edit their songs?
Teacher: Yes. Great. No problem.
As you can see. It has happened again. No problem with the Chromebooks. They just worked. Again. A new class, considerable barriers to access, with a non-specialist primary teacher teaching music. They’ll be doing me out of a job soon.
[Cory’s name was changed]