Sunday, June 10, 2007

3 Lessons, 3 Results

I know it has been several days since school ended, but I wanted to relate the results of three technology-oriented lessons I taught during the last three days of school. To a degree they illustrate the great benefits and unexpected pitfalls of the pioneering lessons we are trying. I did sort of tack these lessons on, but I really wanted to put some of what we are learning into practice. So, starting with the most successful first...
The last lesson I did with my students was a year-end final quiz using the Clickers student-response system. Everything about this activity, well, clicked. I finally figured out how to configure my laptop so it worked with the projector, and the 20 questions were clearly displayed. The students worked in groups of three, sharing a remote, so that they could discuss and cooperate on answers. They were engaged, everything worked, and my final day with this fifth grade class was mighty fine.
The next-to-last lesson involved the hidden text feature we Global Learners discovered was part of Microsoft Word. I distributed laptops to each student and they were able to log on to the internet, where I had planned on showing them how to download the document from the Global Learners Enhancing Education Through Technology website. However, for some inexplicable reason, the students working on wireless laptops could not load the page. We tried typing in the exact address, but a blank screen persisted. Other websites worked just fine. Then I tried typing in the address of the page with the document on it, and that would load, so we were able to download the document. Yet the hiccups were not finished. I did demonstrate how to use and write with the hidden text, but my students had a lot of formatting issues. They spent more time trying to get their text correctly set then they did thinking about the content of the assignment. For example, when a student would backspace to fix a mistake, Word would automatically convert the font into hidden text, hiding their work. Bit of a headache, but everyone managed to finish.
Which brings me to the first lesson I tried, which was a mild disaster. I intended for my students to use an activBook lesson that taught them how to use Excel to calculate Chicken McNugget prices. Perhaps I should have paid more attention in my class, but I could not figure out how to help the students log into the activBook site to view the lesson. Instead, I had to show it on the projector, but it did not hold their attention (it their defense, it was a Friday afternoon, with two days of school left). All the students got from the lesson was some exposure to Excel, which I am now sure they are dying to use again.
All in all, I was glad I did the lessons, and I learned the importance of making sure the technology would work before I had the students sitting with their laptops before them. I can't wait to implement some more lessons in the fall. Right on.


Jill Minzak said...

Since school has been out for me for a while now, I haven't had the chance to use the new technology with my students, but I can only imagine. Regardless of the setbacks, I think it's great that you tried all these things. I'm sure your kids left for the summer with some wonderful experiences.

Joseph Miller said...

I take responsibility for the hidden website issue. I installed that google calendar in the html of the homepage for global learners and it caused the site to disappear on Internet Exploer (still worked on firefox).

Even so, I am so glad you tried the lessons. It sounds like your "practice" will definitely pay off in the Fall.


Israel said...

Sounds like some of the hiccups I went through. On the active book lessons I found that preparing the excel spreadsheet myself b4 the lesson, then using it as an example was more effective than having them all on laptops. Im sure with more practice us GLer's and our students will all get better.

Jeff Lewis said...

The key for me is using this technolgy in my classroom like you did and making mistakes. I can practice over and over again, but until I am in front of kids, I can't really know how the technology is going to benefit me or my students until I do it in a real life situation. Kudos for trying it and posting successes and challenges.