About a month ago I was called to the office at my school (no I wasn’t in trouble) and I was informed that I was getting a new fourth grade student – not unusual at an “At Risk” school. Several years ago I had 21 changes in my classroom in one year – 11 new students entered and 10 students moved. What was unusual was that I was told I would probably never see this student.
“Well the student has leukemia and is undergoing chemo treatments and her immune system is shot – so she is being schooled by the home studies teacher, but she has to be placed in a classroom for administrative reasons and we chose yours.”
Later that day our school counselor came by with her file and I asked her if the girl’s family happened to have an internet connection at home because maybe we could include her in at least some class activities and lessons by having her “Skype“ into our classroom. Ann asked a few questions and left.
When I returned to my classroom from morning recess duty a bit later, there was a file sitting in my chair (probably because there was no room to be found on my desk). Inside I found a grant that Ann had already filled out and submitted to pay for a DSL line for the girl’s house and a web cam.
I thought I had an iBook that would do the job for the computer at her house – and that we were on our way. Unfortunately, the iBook is only 600 Mhz (which will support the iSight camera they got her, but Video Skype requires 800Mhz) – NOTE – I can’t do iChat because AOL instant messenger is blocked by the school district and I’d rather use a Mac because my whole class is using Mac laptops running Panther (OS 10.3.9) and it will be easier to give her directions and for her to follow along if we are using the same machines and software + we have to use Appleworks 6 because it is the only word processor that we have a license for and the online word processors don’t have some of the features I’d like – and I’ve got too much going on right now to learn and teach a new piece of software. We will use an HP computer in class with a web cam because that is mandated by the school district (another reason iChat is out and Skype is in – I need software that is cross-platform).
So we have feelers out for a Mac with at least an 800Mhz processor – we’re in the process of informing local media to see if that will help scare up the hardware we need. I haven’t told my own class about any of this yet – until I’m more sure this will all come together. I have a feeling, if I get this set-up to work, that they will benefit at least as much as she will. I must say that our IT department is totally supportive of this endeavor so I am optimistic.
I’m in the throes of setting up a classroom blog with Blogmeister (thanks Dave!) and I’m hoping to include her. Since our field trip last week we have been writing poems and journal entries that will become our first blog entries once I have the time to get that up and running. Busy, “Messy,” times here which is why I haven’t been posting as much of late. I’ll keep you posted on how things go.
UPDATE: 5:30pm PST – a local TV news person here just emailed me that she thinks she has a computer for us to use. : )
UPDATE: Saturday 12/9/06 AM – Turns out instead of donating a computer someone has offered to pay for a computer – I guess they will tell me who later. I like that it is someone in our local community though. : )