Duane Garrett – Video Productions

Inside Mr. Duane Garrett’s class at the Conyers Middle School Center for Technology Education, students are buzzing about the history of television.  Mr. Garrett encourages students to bring and use their own devices to collaborate on and create presentations on a variety of topics.  Students are given the freedom to select from digital tools that fit their learning styles and interests.

Our History of Broadcasting project tracked the progress of broadcast technology starting with newspapers in the 1700s and ending with our current technology.  I have another project coming, “The Future of Broadcasting”, where the students will have to research new and emerging technologies and create a similar presentation.

Take a look at some of the these outstanding student projects below.

Video by T. Mondragon – The History of Broadcasting

Prezi by Z. Tucker – History of Broadcasting

 

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OneNote for Learning Support

In a previous post, I mentioned the use of OneNote as a tool for helping students manage classwork.   Since that time, I have been able to work with several teachers in implementing the use of OneNote with their students.  One of these classes is a self-contained class for students with learning disabilities.  This teacher is responsible for the case management and instruction of all self-contained students in grades 6-12 (yes, you read that correctly!).  Needless to say, this presents a major challenge for her when it comes to providing quality instruction for all of her students.  We met to discuss ways that she could leverage the technology she has in her room to assist her with managing all that she is responsible for on a daily basis, and she selected OneNote as one of the options. Her use of this tool far exceeded my expectations.  Below is her first-hand account of that experience, as well as a few words from one of her students.  Happy Teaching!

“In teaching students with various needs, disabilities, and accommodations, I strive to find a way to keep their interest in class. Each year, administration pushes the use of technology in classes, but I am not the typical technology person.

I have always utilized classroom notebooks, but it has gotten increasingly difficult to keep up with the lessons, assignments, and other materials for the multiple grade levels and subject areas I teach. I have students that find organization to be a difficult task; students that think “writing” is hard because of physical/occupational therapy deficits…there was just one problem after the next.

When introduced to OneNote, I thought it would be great to have my students complete some activities on it. They enjoyed being on the computer. They were excited to type and even draw things instead of writing. Soon, this once in a while thing turned into using it daily, for every subject. I am able to add information (notes, grades, comments) in real time, while students are actively working on the page! Their work is in one place. Instructions are easy to get to. I am even able to embed links directly on their pages to cut down on extra internet surfing. When I want to add a new subject area, it’s as simple as clicking “new”.

My students are able to access it easily and they enjoy the feel of working independently while still having one on one assistance. I see what they are doing from my desk, sitting next to them, or even in another classroom in the building. OneNote is an awesome and easy way to use technology in the classroom!” – Learning Support Teacher and Case Manager

“I like this because you can go back and see what you did. U can look (at what) the teacher put on there.” – Student

Helping Students Manage Classwork

“I can’t find it.”  “You didn’t give that to us, Mrs. Harvey!”  Can I get another copy?”  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard these and about a hundred other excuses when asking students to take out a handout I gave them in a previous class.

Managing their materials is actually a life skill for students.  (Think about the mail nook [messy pilethat most of us have in our homes, and you’ll see what I mean.)  Students are notorious for being disorganized.  In fact, most adults have the same problem. According to keyorganization.com, “43% of Americans categorize themselves as disorganized, and 21% have missed vital work deadlines. Nearly half say disorganization causes them to work late at least 2 or times each week.”

You can use these tips to help set your students up for success.

  • Plan ahead – Think about what you may want your students to keep.  Will you be giving out handouts that they’ll need to refer back to later?  Are you going to have students create foldables (student-created graphic organizers) which they’ll need for remembering vocabulary or math strategies?  Do you tend to sketch items or write things on the board for students to copy?  Try to anticipate the many ways that you will be sharing and/or requiring your students to manage information, and then think about how they will need to keep up with those items.  For example, flash cards and foldables may require pockets in the binder/folder.

laptop      Handouts that are on your computer could be shared electronically with students via a flash drive or shared network on your school’s server.  Electronic notebooks are also a great idea, but remember that students will have to be provided with a means to access them during class if needed.

  • Brainstorm your supply list – Based on the types of information your students will need for class, create a supply list.  You want to be sure and get this to students as soon as possible, either as part of the list your school sends before school starts  or on your teacher website.  Are you willing to provide supplies?  If not, try to keep the supply list generic and allow for flexibility.  Insisting on fuschia colored plastic folders with prongs and pockets may result in a huge amount of frustration for you, the students, and the parents who end up driving to every Wal-Mart within a 50 mile radius of their home to find them…  (Sorry – I was having a flashback – I’m back now!)
  • Create and teach a procedure to manage notes – Procedures aren’t just for elementary school.  Assuming that your middle and high school students know how to manage their materials could be a big mistake.  Spending a few days at the beginning of the year on this can save you lots of time later in the year from recopying and redistributing items.  Be sure to clearly define your expectations for the notebook.  Provide students with a simple rubric so they’ll know what each section should contain.  This example of a Physics Lab Notebook shows not only what the teacher requires, but what a page in the notebook should look like.  I also like Barbara Robeson’s Pinterest on Reader’s Notebooks.   You can modify this to fit your grade level and subject area.  These Pinterest Establish a periodic notebook check, or tie the notebook into the grades for added accountability.  Decide if the materials can go home, or if you’d rather students keep them at school.  Prepare for storage of notebooks kept in class, and teach students how to retrieve them at the beginning of class and return them before they leave.
  • Create a sample notebook – This should be created based on your rubric.  Having a sample will allow your students to have a visual of what you’re looking for and cut down on misconceptions.

laptopIt could be a hard copy or an electronic version like those used in OneNote  a Microsoft program that allows you to maintain your ideas in virtual notebooks.  You set up a notebook, and assign tabs with page inserts just like you would in a real notebook.  Read this article to learn more about setting up a new notebook in One Note –

  • Teach note taking skills – You can model note taking for classwork, for tests/exams, etc  while teaching your lesson.  Simple think aloud statements like, “This is something I would write down to help me remember (fill in the blank)” can serve as verbal cues for students who aren’t sure what to capture.  Be sure to provide examples for different learning styles.  In the book Differentiated Literacy Strategies for Student Growth and Achievement (Corwin Press, 2005), authors Gayle Gregory and Lin Kuzmich cite these research-based summarizing and note taking strategies that resulted in 34% percentile gains on standardized tests:
    • mind maps
    •  concept webs,
    • jigsaw activities
    •  reciprocal teaching, and
    • templates/advance organizers.

laptop Websites like Edutopia and  teAchnology are great places to learn more about these.

(BTW, I initially entitled this post “Helping Students Manage their Notebooks” but when I started researching  tips online,  approximately 90% of them were about managing laptops!  Boy, have times changed!)

Happy Teaching!

Using Technology as a Tool to Manage Your Classroom

 The end of a semester is the perfect time to reflect on classroom routines and procedures.  My husband, a retired military officer, would call this an AAR – after action review.  This time of reflection and evaluation can serve as a great way to refocus our efforts and re-energize us for the coming term.

As a classroom teacher, I made a regular practice of assessing  the routines and procedures I put in place for my students.  Sometimes they worked; sometimes they didn’t.  One constant, however, was that no matter what grade level  I  was teaching that year or what state we were stationed in at the time, I could guarantee that those kids would eat me alive if I didn’t have certain things in place!

Now that I am a technology specialist, I like to think about how I can integrate the technology we use everyday into making those procedures and routines more manageable for both the teachers and their students.  Here are 5 suggestions on how to infuse technology into your everyday routines.

  1. Use a PowerPoint slide to introduce the lesson.  I always started each of my classes with an introduction to the lesson – the essential question, standards to be covered, a take away message, and the activity for that lesson.  However, this can get confusing when you teach 4 different grade levels in one room and are trying to post all of this on one dry erase board. (Yes, I actually did that!)  I found that it was helpful for me to create a slide for each grade level and/or subject, something that I could project on demand without erasing everything else from the board.  It also came in handy when I had a substitute, because all they had to do was display the appropriate slide for my students in my absence.  Easy peezy!
  2. Use a PowerPoint timer slide for transitions.  One of the most difficult things for me when I taught elementary was transitions – from the room to the hall, from the hall to the restroom, even from one activity to the next.  I learned later that the need for a transition procedure still existed, even in the upper grades.  Microsoft.com has tons of free countdown timer slides in increments from 1 to 15 minutes that you can insert right into your presentation.  You can even make your own countdown slides.  Visit http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/help/does-your-presentation-need-a-break-HA001188063.aspx to learn more.
  3. Use iTunes or Pandora to set the tone of your classroom.  They say music soothes the savage beast.  I don’t know about that, but I do know that it works wonders on a bunch of rowdy kids entering your classroom!  Pandora allows you to create radio stations based on music genre – classical, rock, pop – you choose.  Or, purchase a serene track from iTunes.  Select a quiet, tranquil song (instrumental works well)  and let it play through your computer’s speaker.  Or, if the firewall at your school blocks these, just  insert the green audio cord from the back of your PC into the headphone jack of your cell phone or mobile device as the students enter the room.  Turn off your lights to enhance the effect.  You would be amazed at the results, regardless of the age level!
  4. Put the technology in the students’ hands.  An engaged student is a focused student.  Allowing the students to “drive” during your lesson can help channel
    their energies in a more positive direction.  I typically select the one student that “sets off” the rest of the class and train them to do some of the tech tasks in my room.  Since this kid commands attention, the rest of the class will follow suit.  This also frees me up to circulate around the room and use proximity control to minimize a lot of the other off-task behaviors.

Try a few of these, or share some of your own, and let me know how they work for you.

Happy Teaching!