Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pleased with Periferals

The one technology peripheral that my students and I use on a regular basis is my Smartboard, usually several times a day. I love it and they love it more. Using the Smartboard, along with the Notebook program, allows me to grab the attention of my students and really get them involved in the teaching and learning. It is great for modeling and even better for guided practice. Using the Smartboard with Notebook my students have sorted word families, illustrated poems, identified high frequency and rhyming words, played math games, dramatized stories, and experimented with how to manipulate the tools and settings on Notebook. It is the magic I use when I need to really capture my students' attention and actively engage even the most active student. To manage its use my students know how the Smartboard works with all of the essential elements - computer, software, projector - and they know the proper use of the tools - pens and erasers. I only wish that they didn't have to remember that only one person can work on it at a time. Maybe one day I'll have the new model that allows the Smartboard to be used by two people simultaneously. A girl can dream! And while I'm at it I would also like a Smart Slate. Like my dad always said, "If you are going to dream, you might as well dream big!"

I am usually in control of most of the other peripherals that I use in class - digital cameras, document camera, ipod, external mikes, flip camera - most of which are used weekly if not daily. I manage them by keeping most of the peripherals and their corresponding cords in one place very near my laptop. My school is great about providing a variety of technology peripherals to its teachers but, I feel that they have over looked one important one that has made my life sooooo much easier - - the usb hub. I use a usb hub to keep everything plugged in so that I only have to plug one cable into my laptop every morning and I'm not constantly plugging and unplugging things that I want to use. It sounds like a silly thing but it's the little things that make life easier.

Next semester I would like to put digital cameras in the hands of my students. Much like the management of laptops, my management of digital cameras will include starting with the basics and keeping things simple. I'm sure the students would be thrilled to see some pictures that they have taken on our class blog.

Laptops and Young Learners

To be totally honest I have not used laptops with my kindergartners this year. So I don't have a management plan for the use of laptops with my students. As I am thinking about developing a plan I am remembering to keep things simple and basic and to think about each individual task that is required to safely and effectively use a laptop.

So, when I decide that it is time to begin using laptops with my young learners my management plan will begin by answering guiding my students while we answer the following questions together:

How do you hold and carry a laptop?
How do you open and close the screen on a laptop?
What is the correct way to turn the laptop on and off?
What do you do if you want to move to a different place with the laptop?
How do you get a laptop and put a laptop away?

Of course as we answer the questions there will be lots of modeling and guided practice for each one.

There will always be one important question that I will need to answer before any screens are opened: Are the laptops the best way to enhance the learning of my students?

My partner in crime, in kindergarten and the Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy, Susi and I are going to be working with computer partnerships and sharing while implementing our final project for this course. So next semester I think we might want to explore the use of laptops with our students. Our first questions will be: Which department will let us use 8 laptops from their already overbooked laptop carts? Wish us luck!

The Verbs Say It All

So the question is "How relevant are the NETs for Teachers and Administrators to being a "Good Educator" today?"

The standards use verbs like inspire, model, learn, facilitate, encourage, evaluate, communicate, design, develop, engage, create, promote, reflect, respect, collaborate, transfer, provide, customize, personalize, adapt, pursue, participate, support, ensure, lead, establish, maintain, and contribute along with many others.

When we think of "Good Educators", aren't those the words that we think of? When we discuss "Best Practices", aren't those the words we hear? When we talk about our students and what they need to be successful in the future, aren't those the words we use? My answer is "yes" to all of those questions.

So after looking at the standards, while thinking about technology specifically and education in general, I would have to say that they are very relevant to being a "Good Educator" for administrators, teachers, and anyone involved in the education of children.