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.

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