What I Learned After The “Pop!”

Pop! That was the sound that I heard almost two weeks ago when I was in the midst of my last Progress Monitoring for Dibels. Everybody was reading independently around the classroom, and the sound stopped all of us. What happened? I quickly figured out that the bulb blew in our projector. This wouldn’t have been a huge problem, as we had another one, but for some reason, the screw on the projector was stripped. Nobody could get the case open to replace the bulb. And trust me, our amazing librarian, really, really tried. With no luck, he put in for a work order, and we needed to wait (hopefully patiently).

I’ll admit that this was hard for me to do. I use my SMART Board, and even more so, the projector, a lot. What would our classroom be like without it? In the end, I actually made some good changes, that I probably wouldn’t have made, if our projector was still working.

  • There were even more small group discussions. Instead of sharing a media piece with the whole class and having us reflect together as a group, students watched and listened to these media pieces in small groups. They talked more in small groups, and I talked more with all of them. Sometimes students that are reluctant to share as part of a full class, almost became leaders in this different environment. We still exchanged ideas with the class, but these discussions were shorter ones, and I think, more productive. 
  • Students did more. At the end of the day, I would often pull students together to watch and listen to a short story on the SMART Board. This would connect to our learning from the day, and often end with a reflection. I don’t think that this was wasted time, but I do think that the students were more passive observers during this time. With the SMART Board out of service, I decided to extend our time working, talking, and “playing” with Math and Science. We then came together as a group to reflect and connect. I think that the additional time off of the carpet and learning with each other, has benefitted the students, and it’s something that I wouldn’t have considered doing before. 
  • I got more creative. I’m used to using the SMART Board. I feel comfortable doing so, and I often plan lessons and follow-up activities accordingly. Not having access to this tool made me reconsider my approach. It made me think of new alternatives … even looking at paper in a different way than I did before. 🙂 My students and I often problem-solved together, and we looked at how we could still share digitally with each other, even without this tool. Without a doubt, I got uncomfortable, and I think that this was a good thing.

I will admit that we all cheered today when the technician came in to fix our projector. But even with this tool working again, I’ll still keep some of the changes that I made when it wasn’t. Who knows? We may still need them. This afternoon, I figured out that while the projector is working, the touch feature on the SMART Board, isn’t. I wonder what new learning this problem will bring. What have you learned when technology doesn’t work? How does this learning impact on your teaching practices? I’d love to hear your stories!


8 thoughts on “What I Learned After The “Pop!”

  1. Great reflection on your own learning. This is a wonderful reminder that technology is ONE of the tools we bring the learning process. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Chris! This is a great point. I love using technology in the classroom, and I see many benefits to doing so, but I also see many benefits to low-tech tools. This experience definitely gave me a learning opportunity that I wouldn’t have had if the SMART Board continued to work. Maybe there were bonuses to a burnt-out bulb.


      • Ah the 21rst century teaching brings many challenges one being what does one do when the smart board projector bulb goes pop! Being 5o years old and having taught with and without this technology in grade one and now kg 1 my automatic instinct brings me back into my university training and experience , inquiry approach learning. Instead of where I might utilise the smart board I swap it for first a chart (fill in together with pictures and words)about a topic asking students “What I know?, What Do I want to learn? Leaving a Last Column What They Learned? Then I read a book (using lots of voices, actions) on the topic asking inquiry based questions throughout providing students opportunities to answer and expand on their learning. Perhaps together from the book we may come up with a followup activity from the topic (eg. Read about Pirates for letter p came up with activity for a treasure hunt around school of p wther,etc).ords).
        We eventually would fill in last column “What did I Learn?” Maybe I would I would have my students act out what they learned about a topic (eg. The earth travels around the sun.).
        I have learned when technology doesn’t work even though my training comes into play so does my creativity and fast thinking. I want to engage all my students with different learning styles so I need to be animated even when reading just like a smart board. The learning must be at my students age , developmental and interest level. it must have personal meaning for them. The learning impacts my teaching practices as it is the focus of how I teach. I teach based on a cognitive theory model that is influence by Piaget’s work. Experiences over time is the key.

        • Thanks for the comment, Alana! I totally understand what you’re saying, and I have employed many similar approaches before. I think that certain approaches can work better based on the subject area. I also think that employing other tools may help us realize how we can meet student needs in a different, and sometimes better, way. Ultimately it’s about the kids … right?

          Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  2. Hi Aviva,
    I was fortunate to be a part of the EDUC 4P27 class who held a Skype conversation with you yesterday, and I had a question about this post that I did not have a chance to ask you.
    Reading the post made me think a little bit about resiliency, because I think the typical reaction when something goes wrong is disappointment – put nicely. And by extension, bouncing back from an unexpected event, for some people is not second-nature. I was so impressed by the statement: “students that are reluctant to share as part of a full class, almost became leaders in this different environment.” Overall, I really value and respect the approach of looking at this unexpected situation as an adventure, instead of a burden.

    My question: How do you think that we, as educators, can foster a sense of positivity for students who maybe ‘see the glass half-empty’, particularly as this attitude is so infectious?


    • Thanks for the comment, Ana! I often think that our reaction to things impacts on our students. I’ve become very aware of this, and while I will sometimes feel upset or disappointed, I really try to think about the “positive.” My principal from last year, Paul Clemens, emphasized the importance of positivity, and I still think about his words now. So I guess, if we want our students to be positive, then we have to show them that we can be as well. And we have to talk through our emotions with them. We can tell them if we feel upset, but we can also tell them, that maybe this will be a great opportunity to learn something new … and then we can show them how we plan on doing so.

      My students love the SMART Board, and they didn’t like the fact that the projector stopped working, but in less than a day, they got used to new approaches (and they indicated how much they liked many of these new approaches). Students will often surprise us. What do you think? Does this help?


      • Thank you for the reply, Aviva! I think that positivity is so powerful, and so contagious. And as you said, it is so important for us as educators to talk about experiencing various emotions with students, and to model prosocial ways of handling these emotions. Social-emotional learning is so crucial, and is unfortunately often neglected in the classroom. I really am in awe of your openness as an educator, and I would really love to observe your classroom in action. Thank you for writing such eye-opening posts!!


        • Thanks Ana! Yes, I think that this modelling and these discussions are so important. Thank you so much for your kind words! You’re definitely more than welcome to visit anytime.


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