Around the end of the first semester of this school year, I got a BRILLIANT idea! Some would consider it to be more CRAZY than BRILLIANT because I was creating MORE WORK for myself, but I knew that executing this idea would help me refine my technology skills even more. I decided that I wanted to start an after-school student technology club so that I could get more experience with working directly with students at a different grade level. I also thought that working with a group of older students would give me a chance to try out some different technology techniques and tools that are too advanced for my 2nd graders. After discussing the idea with my principal, we decided to target one grade level and limit participation to 10 lucky 4th grade students. Our school goes from 4K to 5th grade, and 4th grade seemed like the perfect target audience for the club because 3rd graders are still new to using their 1:1 tablets provided by the school and 5th graders already get lots of “5th Grade Only” perks because they are the “Big Dogs” on our school campus. So with my target audience set, TECH CLUB was born!
- First, I recruited several teacher friends from my hall to help me make a “commercial” to advertise the club. In the commercial, I showed the students some of the projects I planned to complete in TECH CLUB. The commercial was absolutely hilarious, but it ended up being a big hit, and all the 4th graders were excited about this new opportunity and wanted to join TECH CLUB immediately!
- After the commercial aired, I sent an interest flyer home with all 4th grade students announcing that we would be starting a 4th grade TECH CLUB.
- The interest flyer instructed students to see me or their homeroom teacher for an application. The application also included 2 teacher reference sheets where teachers were required to rate students on a scale from 1-4 in a variety of different areas, such as leadership skills, creativity, and organization.
- The prospective members had 2 weeks to return their completed applications, and I asked all teachers to return their reference sheets directly to me so that their student ratings would remain confidential.
- After the application process, I chose 10 4th grade students to participate in TECH CLUB, and I chose 2 students to be “alternates” in case one of the chosen students couldn’t participate for some reason. After the members were chosen, I sent home an acceptance letter/parent permission form outlining the basic rules/guidelines for participating in the club. The guidelines were basically a re-statement of the school-wide rules. The only TECH CLUB specific rule/guideline that I outlined in the form was that student attendance was mandatory and after 2 unexcused absences, students would no longer be allowed to participate in the club. I wasn’t trying to be mean or malicious in any way, but I felt that this was an important rule to establish in order to make sure the students were taking their participation in the club seriously.
- I used the Tagxedo word cloud program to create a TECH CLUB word cloud in the shape of a panther paw, and we use this word cloud as our club logo—We even got t-shirts printed with our logo on them!
Starting TECH CLUB has most definitely been an adventure, but I’m actually having a lot of fun! In fact, we have so much fun when we meet, that 2 of my other teacher-friends from my hall have volunteered to stay late and help me on TECH CLUB days (see our photo below)! By the way, TECH CLUB meets on Tuesdays, so the kids have coined the phrase “Going to TECH CLUB on a Tuesday” based on the popular Hip-Hop song lyrics “In the club, going up on a Tuesday”! I have to admit that I found this highly entertaining, and so the phrase has stuck!