I thought I would take some time to look back over the last couple of weeks, and write down some things I’ve learned recently that might help with instruction. Here they are:
- I have learned that kindergarten students can take a challenge. I worked with a kinder teacher a couple of weeks ago at Colonial Hills and we asked a group of students to try their hand at using Microsoft Paint. The teacher selected a book on Tumblebooks, and set it to read aloud. We paused at critical points in the story, and asked some questions regarding the plot, and it seemed like the students enjoyed themselves. We then discussed the main features of Paint, and asked the students to use the program to paint pictures of the story’s main points. We were amazed at the ability displayed! An extension of this assignment (which we hope to accomplish soon) would be to import the students’ pictures into PowerPoint, and ask the students to discuss their pictures while the teacher types on their particular slide. We will end up with a nice summary of the story.
- I have learned that Weebly offers an incredibly easy way to make a free web site. Easy and free! Pretty cool. I helped a few teachers introduce this site to their students, and I helped another intern at Jackson open an education account and create accounts for his classes with the click of a button. Add painless to the list under easy and free! It is a snap to create a fully functioning web site in under 10 minutes. You can even make sites private with a teacher account. I have never known it to be so easy to make a web site.
- I have learned that Museum Box is a neat tool for presenting information like images, text, links, and sounds. A teacher at Castle Hills has embraced the software, and is using it to help her students chronicle their learning on the topic of weathering and erosion. What I really like about the site is that a free teacher account allows the students the ability to submit their work to the teacher rather than letting it go immediately live on the internet. The teacher gets to peruse the work prior to putting it on the web. They are able to review the work, edit it, make suggestions and send messages to the students, or submit it to the site for live viewing. This is a great resource.
- I have learned that a blinking cursor is a fabulous thing. I refer to the lovely relationship between the blinking cursor and alphasmarts and neos. Did you know that you could have your whole class typing information (notes about a nature walk, an essay, a solution to a math problem, etc.), each student having their own alpha smart or neo, and then, with the connection of one little cable and a blinking cursor on the screen, each student may send work quickly into your computer. All you need is a blinking cursor. Pretty awesome. Think about all the programs that have a blinking cursor…Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, Paint, Inspiration, Kidspiration. I have named six programs that are each loaded on district computers. I haven’t even mentioned interactive web sites. The opportunities are really amazing. Let me know if you are interested in learning more.
- I have learned that iPods and iPads are more than just sleek gadgets. There are some very helpful basic things that iDevices can do for you in the classroom. If you happen to have iTouches or iPads on your campus, you might want to think about checking them out for use with instruction. We are in the process of updating them with the new operating system, and with that update, we are placing on each device, an email account that allows the user to send (but not receive) email. The benefits of this function are great. Imagine your students using something like a whiteboard app and being able to send their work right to you when they are finished. Or maybe you would like to spend some time in class allowing your students to collaborate. There are many apps that would accomodate this.
- I have learned that SMART Notebook software is extremely versatile. If you have not spent much time scrolling through the resources available to you in SMART software, I encourage you to do so. There are keyword-searchable lessons waiting for you, interactive dice, clocks, timers, and stories, and so much more. I have seen how a SMART board or a slate can get students engaged. I hope you will give SMART a try.
- I have learned that there is still much to learn. I cannot emphasize how flooded my brain is right now with new concepts! I am finding it easier and easier to just accept that I cannot know it all, because today I know more than I did yesterday or last week. I appreciate all who have been so patient with me as I find my bearings in this new position. I hope that I can serve you as you serve your students, and I hope that you will take the challenge to make your classroom more interactive. Your students will thank you.