7 Months Later – The One Computer Classroom

Most of my job for the Center at Rutgers is sustained professional development. I truly believe in this model as you can only learn so much in four hours or a day. You have to have time to think about it and implement it. Participants have to feel comfortable and willing to ask questions and try activities again.

One of the districts I began working with this year has decided to begin integrating technology into the curriculum by purchasing tablet PCs and projectors for their middle and high school math and science teachers. This is the first phase of a multi-year initiative that they have planned that slowly upgrades their level of technology literacy.

The HS teachers entered their comments in a public Google spreadsheet.

This first cohort of teachers are thrilled to have a laptop/tablet to use. It’s the first piece of hardware they’ve had in years that they can rely on for productivity, classroom presentation and small group activities. We were allotted pretty much a meeting a month. Well, not even. We met five times over the last seven months and communicated via a Ning I set up for all the teachers enrolled in the program.

When we gathered for our final session, the teachers spoke of how thrilled the students were about using the tablet. It’s still novel, even in April. Students don’t have access to tablets in all classes as they’re being rolled out over a couple of years, so they look forward to using it when they can.

Students also look forward to being engaged by the types of technologies and activities that we have reviewed and  implemented this past seven months:

Each session, we also reviewed specific content-related resources in biology, physics, chemistry, environmental science, math analysis, algebra, calculus and geometry.

The biology teacher, Steven Klass, even went as far as to create a private education (social) network for his students using Edmodo. He had requested some information early on in the year about how to create one safely and effectively and we had discussed some benefits of encouraging students to communicate about classroom content online. Using Edmodo, Mr. Klass up his AP Biology students to talk about content online. He also posted resources from class and it turns out, so did they. He was pleasantly surprised when, after a few weeks in Edmodo, students from his class started posting links to biology videos and articles for their classmates to read. He even wound up inviting a few students from another section in so that they could also benefit from the information.

I noted as we were scanning the chat that there was one student who was very vocal in the logs. I asked Mr. Klass if this happened to be a student who participated a lot in his physical class, and no surprise to many of you reading this post, this was a typically quiet student. It was a pleasure to listen as the teachers in the room spoke of how he participate online versus in the room and how the wheels churned a bit as to how this might benefit some of their students as well. Next year, Mr. Klass plans on opening the social network to the rest of his science students.

So, it’s been all positive in my post up till now. I try to be open and honest and this time is no different than others. One teacher admitted that he just could not use technology as a resource for students to submit assignments. He was not having success with it this year. He would, however, set the expectation from the beginning next year with the families, and give it a try again in the fall.

Another teacher admitted that the technology does keep the students engaged, but she was unwilling to share the tablet with them, so the students really weren’t benefiting from hands-on time. Yet, she’s in the chart above transforming from verbal lecture only to sideshows with hyperlinks and videos. There is progress and the hope for more next year.

Are you in a school where the technology is not in the hands of the students? How do you go about getting it to them? Is it through homework or class time or some other way? Please share your experiences or suggestions.

iTouch The Future…I Teach-Science

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get to my third post on the iTouch. June has been a crazy month of professional development, getting ready for NECC and playing with new toys.

On to the focus of the post – science. As I did with my post on iTouch music sites and iTouch math sites, I’ve published a Google Doc with the websites I tried on the iTouch. Not all of them were worth posting here either because of the layout, appropriateness in the educational setting, or because I just couldn’t access them, but you might want to see them, so you can through this Doc.

I tried to divide the sites into categories as I had with the math sites, but there would have been too many categories, so I’m going to list some converters and some miscellaneous.

There were several great science converter sites for the iTouch/iPhone.

iConvert – has 26 categories including torque, density, and clothing sizes. (I’ve never been able to convert US shoe sizes to European shoe sizes and now I can!)

Comoki Converter (only viewable on the iTouch/iPhone) – This one is AWESOME! It’s divided by categories (angle area, energy, temperature, time, length, speed, pressure, power, volume, weight ) You could spend hours here.  BTW – Thanks @Riptide_Furse for the suggestion.

Temperature Conversions

Culinary Calculator – weight converter

 

There were a couple of dictionaries for the iTouch.

There was a also a fantastic site that would be helpful for students working with the Periodic Table of Elements.

As I mentioned in my iTouch post on math sites, you’d probably start to see me repeat some of the websites. But that’s just because as educators, we are creative in how we use our resources. This time, I’ve used iFlipr to create a set of flipcards to review an insects unit my preschool-aged daughter is studying in school. You’ll see she doesn’t need much guidance from me on how to use the technology – or how to identify the insects.

Again, iFlipr comes with decks you can download, or you can make your own. Any suggestions for decks to create? Right now this site is free, but I’m thinking it won’t be for long. Already, one of my favorites, Mogopop, seems to have vanished from the internet. So you never know what’s going to happen.

Next time – iTouch the Future…I Teach – Social Studies