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 www.education.smarttech.com/subscribe.

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. http://www.k12handhelds.com/blog/

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.