Getting Around

Saturday, October 27, 2012

#msSunFun iPad and Tech

Before I go on, if you have experience or ideas on how to integrate slow netbooks into a classroom, please comment on my previous post. I could use your help!

At my school all the teachers have iPads. The students will eventually get them, too. What I've been using mine most for is controlling my computer. We have the Splashtop whiteboard app on our iPads and the matching software on our PCs. This is so handy. I have classes who find it difficult to focus, and as soon as I turn off the lights (I have a very dim projector) they can't concentrate. I can walk around and still control my computer with the iPad so I can manage by proximity. In addition, it's just wicked cool to be able to access my PC from anywhere in the building, particularly during meetings. I also take attendance on the iPad with our student system because then I can use the projector, which is run by the computer, for bell work. We will eventually be using My Big Campus when students get their iPads, which I'm hoping to use to post and collect assignments in addition to having a forum/discussion area.

I also have a set of clickers, which I use for weekly, 5-question quizzes first thing on Fridays. These quizzes are worth very little grade-wise, but I get a lot of formative information out of them. The reports are pretty useful as long as I'm careful about how I structure the quizzes. The way I run the quizzes is that we do each question and then we can see how many of us got it right. I'll work the problem at the board right then and there before we move on to the next question if anyone got it wrong. Students tell me this helps them think about what they were supposed to do and it minimizes the overload you feel when you get several wrong and you don't know why. I'm hoping to find some new ways to use the clickers because the kids LOVE them. Some teachers in other buildings have students enter their homework answers on the clickers, but I'm not exactly clear how that works for complicated answers.

I recently offered to host a departmental netbook cart (see previous post) and am looking for ways to use the netbooks. I have all my math kids signed up for Khan Academy with me as one of their coaches, which I'm slowly introducing as a way to supplement the textbooks. Many of my kids have reading difficulties, and the videos are a good replay of the material we cover in class. The textbooks are of little use to over half my class since their reading levels aren't that high and they have huge math gaps. As time goes on I'd like to teach them to use KA more independently to fill gaps and review things they're having trouble remembering. I don't think KA could ever replace a teacher and I do find flaws with it, but the kids love anything to do with the computer. If it gets them to do extra practice, I'll take the flaws, any day. All kids in the school have school-sponsored Google accounts, which is what I have them use to login to KA.

Last but not least, I have a website. I post any homework that comes from the book as well as any handouts I gave kids that I have the rights to post. About a third of my math class doesn't have internet access at home, so I can't count on the website as a reliable communication tool. Several of my students check it regularly, but they are the exception. I use Google sites because that's what the school has provided for us. I like Weebly better, but I already used up my two free sites!

I can't wait to see how everyone else is using technology!

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