The Power of 1st Period & Pilot Projects

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This fall our district became a Google Apps for Education school district and with that, a whole new world of opportunities opened up for our students. But, with transition and change always comes challenges and obstacles. The key to maximizing the effectiveness to any new initiative, I believe, is piloting the roll out with a small group of willing "cliff jumpers" as I like to call them, people willing to experiment, evaluate, and implement change. But I have come to realize, an important element of piloting an initiative is the willingness of all participants to:
  • understand the environment needed for piloting an initiative.
  • understand the importance of experimentation and evaluation.
  • understand the vital necessity of developing "best practices".

When I began this new school year, we were piloting Google Apps, but we didn't actually get our accounts until a few weeks after school started. That meant we had to modify and adjust fairly early in the game. This was when I discovered the value of the flexible group my 1st period turned out to be. They were willing to explore and evaluate workflow and protocols. They would help determine the best way the other classes needed to proceed. There were many things we had to figure out:

  • File-naming conventions that were best to use.
  • Easiest ways to share documents.
  • Best ways to organize Google Drive.
  • Best ways to organize and manage Gmail.
Understanding the importance of creating an environment that is experimental in nature is critical to any pilot program. Mistakes pave the way to success. The students loved being a part of that and understood their opinions were important. I had some real leaders emerge as trailblazers and many had never really experienced this kind of success or recognition. It's exciting to see students take ownership in their learning and find value in helping others learn as well. We are about to implement a 1:1 iPad pilot and I am depending on my 1st period class to step up to the plate once again. They are up for the challenge and I know they will be instrumental in developing "best practices" for those who follow. We are looking forward to the delivery of our new iPads...hurry! We're ready!

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