Sunday, December 03, 2006

Just Returned From LACUE

Wow, I am so excited about what I learned at the Louisiana Association of Computer Using Educator's State Conference held in Baton Rouge. I was very fortunate to listen to Elliot Soloway and Cathie Norris who spoke on Mobilizing the Curriculum. I have attended several Handheld SIG meetings in which Elliot was in attendance and had read must of his research. His session was absolutely awesome! I heard Janet Caughlin give a presentation on using handheld computers and am eager to purchase her new book this spring. I actually attended a hands-on workshop where I created my own wiki using pbwiki. I can hardly wait to begin using a wiki in my classroom. Keynote speaker was Will Richardson--I moved to the very front of the ballroom so that I could hear him and see his presentation easily. After listening to Will's keynote address and attending his workshop, I finally understand how blogs, wikis, and RSS all work together. When Will spoke with a friend in Canada using Skype, my curiosity was definitely peaked. I have downloaded and installed Skype on my computer and was given 5 free minutes. I called my telephone just to see if it actually worked--it did!! I can hardly wait to use it with my students and with teachers when I conduct professional development workshops.

This was the very best LACUE conference that I have ever attended--and I have attended a few. A highlight of the conference was when Marge Arnold, our parish grant writer, was named as Louisiana's Outstanding Technology Educator of the Year.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Patriots Practice Podcasting

Although we were plagued by hotsync problems with voice memos, students are managing to finalize their school announcement podcast. We are using Audacity to edit the voice memos and add background music. By Monday afternoon, we should have seven individual podcasts concerning news and events at FPHS.

Next week, we will continue by creating a podcast for Constitution Week. Students will once again be divided into groups where they will combine patriotic music, a recitation of the Preamble, a short interview with a veteran, a brief history of Constitution Day, and a short citizenship quiz into an informative podcast. I hope to post these to my website for others to hear.

Following podcasting, my students will explore the use of virutal tours on the Internet. Once again, groups of students will create an actual virtual tour of our school campus. I hope to incorporate videos, photos, voice memos, text, and whatever else we can come up with to create a tour that can be featured on our school webpage. Stay tuned for further developments . . .

Third Inservice For 8th Grade Teachers

Eighth-grade teachers had the opportunity to experiment with several software programs including Divisible, Gone Mad, Numerus, Crickometer, and Angles. I chose to introduce these programs after reading Tony Vincent's blog entry concerning his experiences with teachers from Phoenix. After a brief demonstration of the programs, teachers actually used the Palm Quick Install to transfer the programs from my webpage to their laptops and on to their handhelds. The teachers are doing a great job with the handheld computers--we hope to have the actual handheld computers available to our 8th graders by October 1.

After attending Mike Curtis'workshop at NECC, I purchased a copy of Tap Smart Handshare for demonstrating handheld programs to teachers/students. It is a wonderful program--it is so nice not to have to bring another piece of equipment such as the Elmo!

My students used Sketchy to create animations of famous events in history. I showcased a few of these at the workshop: The Dawn of Man, The Hindenberg, and September 11. At first my students were disappointed because there were three September 11 animations. However, it was very interesting to see the different points of view.

Marge Arnold has recently started a blog describing the use of educational technology in Franklin Parish. You can find her blog at

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Computer Science - Year Three With Handhelds

This fall marks the third year we have used handheld computers in the computer science class at my school. In one week, we have managed to perform a hard reset on each handheld computer and re-install the Palm operating system and keyboard software. Students are still adjusting to the conflicts that occur between the keyboard and the ir port.

This year, we have the entire HLE suite of programs from GoKnow. Students have already discovered Sketchy and designed their animation of a famous historical event. Students will be making their presentations to classmates tomorrow. Titles that I have seen include: September 11, Titanic, and Caveman discovers fire.

We began an internet scavenger hunt designed to introduce students to the concept of podcasting. This hunt can be found using Trackstar #268838. Our goal is to podcast the weekly announcements on our school website.

Connected Tech 8th Grade Palm Project

Approximately 15 eighth-grade teachers along with three curriculum coordinators met today for our second inservice training on the use of handheld computers. Teachers brought their handheld computers, laptop computers, sync cables, software, etc. and came prepared to sync their handheld to their laptop. Ultimately, all teachers were able to install the Palm desktop to their laptops and install Docs to Go and Ebook Reader to their handheld computers.

Marge presented a lesson plan that could be used with the Louisiana comprehensive curriculum. Debbie distributed several documents that would be useful in preparing for parent's night as well as a sample handheld contract. Thoy explained the blackboard site and how participants could locate and logon to the site.

We discussed an article that was published in Interactive Educator entitled "electronic books help reluctant readers?" The article was written by Kathy Schrock. Teachers can request a free IE subscription at

Since Constitution Day is September 17, we informed teachers of the following blog where a free handheld curriculum unit on the Constitution will be made available by September 1.

Our next meeting will be held on September 7 (Thursday) from 4 to 6 p.m. Our main goal will be to share software such as Numerus, Flash/Boom, etc. with teachers and explain how it can be installed on their handheld computers.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Eighth Grade Teachers Introduced to Handhelds

As the first step in the implementation of our handheld computer initiative for all eighth graders in the school district, eighth grade teachers gathered for the first of many inservice workshops. Mrs. Marge Arnold, grantwriter, explained the purpose for the initiative and how handheld computers have been successfully used in school districts throughout the nation. Mrs. Thoy Leonard, technology coordinator, discussed pre and post surveys to be completed by both teachers and students.

As local consultant for the project, I issued each teacher a handheld computer (Palm Tungsten E2) and began with hands-on activities. My agenda included:

1. A Tour of the Tungsten E2 - Explanation of soft buttons, hard buttons, stylus, etc.
2. Contacts - Teachers used the on-screen keyboard to create a contact that contained their school information and beamed it to other teachers in the group.
3. One of the handheld computers froze; therefore, I took advantage of the teachable moment and showed teachers how to perform a soft reset.
4. After a brief meet and greet session using Cooties, we had an epidemic! Teachers were forced to use their higher-order thinking skills to find the initial carrier.
5. I beamed a memo to each participant. The memo contained a paragraph, spelling words, and math problems. These were edited and beamed back.
6. Using Tony Vincent's Quizzler handout, teachers were able to design their very own drill and practice test.
7. We concluded with a special viewing of my presentation from NECC--Beaming Across the Curriculum.

Teacher comments/suggestions included:
A parent night in which to explain the project and issue handhelds.
Giving a spelling test on the handheld rather than pen/pencil.

Special thanks to Dr. Mark Yehle of SuccessLink for his input on this workshop.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Trackstar Updates

I have recently added to my collection of links on Trackstar. They can be referenced from the TrackStar site as follows:

Introduction to Podcasting - #272837
Using Handheld Computers in the Classroom - #218883 and #218982
Software for the Palm OS - #240182 and #288704

I hope to see you all at NECC in SanDiego. Marge Arnold and I will be presenting a concurrent workshop entitled Beaming across the Curriculum. It will be held on Friday, 7/7/2006, at 11:30am– 12:30pm, in the SDCC 9.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

LA Association of Computer Using Educators

On February 14-16, I had the opportunity to attend the Louisiana Association of Computer Using Educators’ State Conference. While in Baton Rouge, I attended the following sessions: Podcasting 101 – This was presented by a representative from Apple Computer. Even though I am not an Apple computer user, I was pleased to learn many new and exciting aspects of Itunes. We had the opportunity to see the new video Ipod in action and listen to an episode of Radio WillowWeb. Next, I attended Photo Editing with Adobe Photoshop Elements 4 presented by Leslie Fisher. She is most knowledgeable about all kinds of gadgets and software. Thanks to her workshop, I can now use this software to reduce the size of my photos. An instructor from Trinity Episcopal School taught me a little about RSS in RSS: Learning More While Doing Less. I can hardly wait to subscribe to various podcasts and have them downloaded as contents are updated. While I was waiting to begin my presentation, I attended Reeling IT In: Integrating Technology in Math. This workshop was particularly valuable for fourth and eighth grade math teachers who are preparing students for the Leap test in the spring. While strolling through the exhibit hall, I had the opportunity to visit with Luba Lewytzkyj with Atomic Learning. Atomic Learning offers online training videos in numerous software. Since I received a 30-day free access code for the service, I tried out the Introductory Excel with my students. They loved it! They are beginning to expand their curriculum tools. They even have an online workshop on podcasting!

The conference website is

Thursday, February 02, 2006

School Based Enterprise Students Use Palms

Students in my school based enterprise have begun to use our set of handheld computers. As part of their portfolio, they must take at least one photo of themselves at work on a product. They must also photograph any products they create. When students do not have an order to work on, they are encouraged to check out their handheld computer and begin learning to use it.

One student is responsible for the distribution and collection of handheld computers. So far, this system is working quite well. Later in February, I plan to incorporate some podcasting into our class.