Friday, January 9, 2009
You'll Never Know If You Don't Ask
The direction of teacher training changed course this week as I managed to get our Promethean Activotes to work on Wednesday.
Ideas for the Tablet PC
The staff meeting topic was our new tablet PCs. They have been getting good use since they were brought upstairs and programmed to recognize the three Linksys routers. One of the teachers hasn't gotten around to logging the cart into the Google form yet, but we're working on her.
My original plan was to talk about Voicethread back in December. My son got sick and I had to cancel that session. I was going to just give the class as planned from December. When I figured out how to use the Activotes, a new plan was hatched.
I turned the Activstudio flipchart with survey results into a slide show, if you want to flip through.
Modeling the Activotes
I decided to lead the teachers through the presentation by providing questions and reviewing the answers. The teachers seemed interested in the Activotes. They immediately began asking if the Activboard was required. I loaded the Activstudio software on all the tablet PCs and got them working while at home last week. So, I was happy to share that anyone will be able to learn to use the software to create questions and bring the Activotes in to a class with a projector.
I Learned Some Teachers Are Independent Learners
Three of the eighteen teachers have gone to look at the Discovery streaming since it was introduced to them in October. They have not chosen to use it with students yet, but I think that will change. I will be have the lab open after school to give guidance and quick answers. Three of the eighteen teachers in the room have gone to look at the website on their own. Once Catholic Schools Week is over at the end of January, I will have an open lab day to allow those who want a little support to explore the site.
I Learned Tuesday is a Good Day for Training
My first activote question asked what was the best day for training outside of school hours. One third of the teachers responded with Tuesday as a best day. Wednesday and Saturday are the least favored days to get together.
Showcasing Teacher's Work #1
I didn't want to talk through the entire 45 minutes. I did want hands on time, but we did not end up opening up the tablets. I was happy to have the Activotes to have everyone interact with the presentation at least every five minutes or so. I found out that 17 out of 18 teachers remembered the word wiki from our June training session.
I wanted to show off a teacher's wiki. She worked hard to have her second grade students write letters to service men and women. We have a teacher in the building with a son in Iraq, so it was easy to find a direct contact. As we talked about what she was doing with the students, I asked her if she would like to have the students record themselves reading the letters.
I offered to scan the letters and have the students come to the computer lab one at a time to record their letters. I put all the digital media (sound and scanned images) on a CD. She estimates that it took an hour to learn how to use Wikispaces with me to create pages, links, and add the media. She finished the wiki at home.
I asked her to share the difficulties, but she said it was pretty easy once she understood the pattern. The next time, I'm going to teach her how to scan and create the CD.
Showcasing Teacher's Work #2
The next question on my flipchart was poorly designed, but it was: Have you tried the new tablet PCs with a class. The answers were: Yes, No, I'm planning on it, or I don't intend to. I should have just had three choices because seven people said "no", but I don't know if they are planning on it or don't intend to use them.
I asked the four teachers what difficulties they encountered bringing the tablets into class and what they tried with the students. Overall, they felt that it was a good experience. They discussed ways to make it work well in the classroom, and chatted a bit about the experience.
Video in the Classroom
I concluded the session by polling the teachers about their knowledge of how many digital video and still cameras we had in the school. Thanks to purchases over the years and the CDWG/ Discover Win a Wireless Lab promotion we have two Sony digital video cameras and a total of five digital still cameras.
DO IT NOW ... Click here submit your entry! The contest runs from January 2 to May 1, 2009. I only wish we could enter again. They were so easy to work with and the prize is amazing!
I wanted to showcase a few reasons why you might want to use video in the classroom. My first example was the use of the video camera to record students presenting their PowerPoint presentations. I will have the students view their video and learn what they look like and sound like when they present in front of the class. Some questions they will reflect upon are: voice level, how they face the audience, how they hold their notes as they speak, the use of filler words (um, uh, like), and other questions. I will eventually post my sixth grade son's presentation.
The second example was the use of the webcam to create newscasts of the Gettysburg Address. I can't include the set of videos created by the eighth grade, but I will eventually get permission forms for the seventh grade students.
Closing Out the Session
I closed out the session with a teaser of Voicethread. We looked at the math threads I made with my sixth grade math students last year and a class from Canada. We took a look at an example for very young students. We ended with the What Can It Mean Voicethread from Silvia Tolisano in Florida.
Overall, it was more sit and get, but the next few sessions will be all hands on.