Friday, October 30, 2009

10 Uses for a Document Camera in Your Classroom

Our school just purchased document cameras for the entire upper grade. If you're new to the world of document cameras, here are ten ways you can use a document camera in your classroom.

1- Place a book under the document camera. As you read aloud to your class, students can see the picture or even follow along with the text.

2- Place math manipulatives (clock, blocks, money, a protractor) under the document camera. All the students can watch as you or a student work a math problem with the manuliputives.

3- During oral reports, students can place their visual aids under the document camera. Students are inspired to add much more detail when they are aware their work will be displayed in this manner.

4- Place a piece of lined paper under the document camera. Project the lines onto the whiteboard, and students can view handwriting demonstrations with "real paper."

5- Place a digital timer under the document camera. Students can watch the countdown projected on the wall as they finish their assignment.

6- Place a mealworm pupa in a clear container and place it under the document camera. When it's ready to come out, watch it emerge.

7- Show student work samples. Choose a student who will let you edit his or her paper to model proper editing, or show off a "perfect sentence."

8- Use the title button to display the objective on the top tenth of the screen throughout the lesson.

9- Use the freeze button when teaching math. Freeze the image of the problem. While students are working on the problem, unfreeze the image, and Voila! There's the solution.

10- For fun, point the camera at your face and say something - anything! From their next homework assignment to your school's announcements - Kids enjoy watching you get a little silly.

What are some ways you use a document camera in your classroom?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Turn 100 Words Into $100K

What school wouldn't benefit from some serious tech dough? If you're like most tech-savvy teachers or administrators, you've got a wish list a mile long. How would you spend $100K? One laptop per child? Does your school need a new media lab? Just look over the prize list below and consider how all that computer equipment, software, and consumer electronics products could benefit your school and write a 100 word essay about it. That's it.

Just do it! What have you got to lose? If your school is in need of technology, you'd be crazy not to nominate your own school. Anyone 13 or older can enter! What a great challenge for your middle or high school students. What if the 100 word essay that wins is a student from your own class? Wouldn't that be awesome! It's also a great way to involve the parents and family members in your community.

Samsung's Four Seasons of Hope Education Essay Contest benefits U.S. elementary, middle, and high schools through the delivery of new digital technologies and software. Individuals throughout the U.S. are invited to nominate a public or state-accredited private K-12 school to receive Samsung and Microsoft product donations by submitting an essay on "How the consumer electronics, computer equipment and software awarded through Samsung's Four Seasons of Hope could benefit your school."
Grand Prize package (1): Winning school will receive $210,000.00 awarded in the form of $100,000.00 of the following Samsung merchandise:
-Thirty (30) 24" LCD Monitors
-Fifty (50) 16" Screen Notebook PCs
-Ten (10) Color Laser Printers
-Five (5) Multifunction Laser Printers
-Twenty (20) HD Digital Camcorders
-Sixteen (16) Digital Cameras
-Six (6) Blu-ray players
-Two (2) 32" LCD HDTVs
-Two (2) 37" LCD HDTVs and Two (2) 40" LCD HDTVs;
-$100,000.00 of Microsoft software;
-$5,000.00 grant from DirecTV (awarded in the form of a check) and the DIRECTV GOES TO SCHOOL® package;
-$5,000.00 in Best Buy @15 Gift Cards (certain terms and conditions may apply on use of gift cards as specified by Best Buy);
-one (1) Classroom Assistant Dog - not sure how that prize fits in to the mix...
-Total Estimated Retail Value (“ERV”) of the Grand Prize package is $210,000.00.
First Prize package (15): Each winning school will receive $50,000.00 awarded in the form of $24,000.00 of the following Samsung merchandise:
-Twelve (12) 24" LCD Monitors
-Ten (10) 16" Screen Notebook PCs
-Two (2) Color Laser Printers
-Five (5) HD Digital Camcorders
-Seven (7) Digital Cameras
-Two (2) Blu-ray players and Two (2) 37" LCD HDTVs;
-$24,000.00 of Microsoft software;
-a $2,000.00 grant from DirecTV (awarded in the form of a check) and the DIRECTV GOES TO SCHOOL® package.
-Total ERV of each First Prize package is $50,000.00.
Second Prize (5): Each winning school will receive $10,000.00 in Best Buy @15 Gift Cards (certain terms and conditions may apply on use of gift cards as specified by Best Buy).
-Total ERV of each Second Prize is $10,000.00.
At first, nominations were due by November 1, 2009, but that deadline has been extended to December 1, 2009. Nomination guidelines are available on the Samsung website.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Clicker Wars: Senteo vs. Renaissance

My sixth grade students performed very well on the California State Standards test in Math. So well, in fact, that in a recent conference with my principal, she asked me what I believed was the highest contributing factor to this success. "Besides good teaching...?" I asked as I theatrically fogged up my fingernails and buffed them on my shirt... Well, there is one thing -- last year, my students were given more immediate feedback than in any previous year.

We were using the Senteo Student Response System, i.e. "Clickers." These responders have one leg "up" on Renaissance Responders in this: Senteo's provide instant feedback directly on the clicker! The ones from Renaissance do not. Granted, they do display the number of answers scored correctly. And yes, teachers can set a preference that allows students to see their score as a percent (or number) correct, but that's not the kind of feedback I'm talking about. Renaissance needs to make it so that the moment a student submits his or her test, each child's Renaissance Responder should display an "X" next to wrong responses, and a "✓" next to correct ones, similar to how Senteo does it!

I can not overstate how important instant feedback is to children. I am aware of a work around: I can print out a report for each student after each test. This is not a viable solution for two reasons: 1) it's not instant enough. I want my students to immediately go over their test and check their understanding. It's not enough to know they missed three out of 12. They need to know which three they missed so they can analyze their results, reflect, and repair their understanding. 2) It wastes time, money, ink, and paper. I have to take time to distribute a class set of print outs to students, waste 30+ pages worth of ink, and 30+ pages of paper. I'm trying to cut down on paper usage, not increase it.

I hope Renaissance addresses this issue as soon as possible. I'm certain their developers can make this happen. Until they do, I don't mind using the Renaissance Responders for anonymous responding, but Monday morning, I'm going back to the Senteo Response System when I need to give formative assessments because instant feedback is critical!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Integrating iPods in Education

iLearn Technology is an edublog written by technology specialist Kelly Tenkely. In her latest issue, the author explores six ways the iPod can be used in the classroom to support learning. Kelly suggests which iPod is best for education and discusses how podcasts, slideshows, videos, text files and eBooks, the Internet, and applications can be a viable part of curriculum. Her online magazine (eZine) called "iLearn" is also noteworthy and well worth a look, especially if you appreciate (or are at least open to) the Apple/Mac platform and have an interest in integrating technology into the classroom.