As a result of the 2006 bond election, the district was able to replace our obsolete Win 98 desktops with laptops. Each 5th grade classroom ended up with 6 wireless laptops. The hall containing 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade is also wired for wireless access. This year, the teachers are able to enjoy using their technology very flexibly, resulting in more frequent lessons and activities that more totally engage learners.
Here’s an example of a vocabulary study. The students needed to familiarize themselves with certain vocabulary in order to gain better comprehesion during a novel study.
The teacher, Mrs. Nancy Darling, who has tech tools and is not afraid to use them, had each group of students get a wireless laptop, and open up VisuWords, an online Graphic Dictionary.
She, and the other 5th grade teachers, who also have enough laptops for each group, assign a Geek-a-Day. This gives the term “Geek” whole new, positive, connontations. The Geek gets to operate the mouse and run the laptop for the group for that day, when the class is engaged in group work.
This system breeds collaboration, conversation, negotiation, patience, and understanding among the group. Every person in the group will be the Geek, so everyone understands what it feels like when the other 3-4 group members are all telling them what to click at the same time. Likewise, everyone at the table has their time as a participant, not the Geek, so they all know what it feels like to figure out how to offer help with naviagation, and how to wait for the Geek to navigate and click through sites.
Their task in this activity was to look up certain vocabulary words, write definitions, synonyms, antonyms and use the word in a sentence.
The students were able to work around an “XLM Load Failed” message, which I need to look into, to complete the activity. The wow factor of VisuWords was quite motivating, as was the wireless laptop use, which is what many of these students are used to using at home.
The total engagment of every student in the class speaks for the value of using tech tools in the classroom. As you could probably guess, asking students to complete this task with individual dictionaries would definitely have about 25% of them frequently off task. I was in the classroom for this lesson, and the teacher did not have to privide redirection to any student during the course of the activity.
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