Teachers Rock Minigrant Projects: Part II
In Part I of this blog post, I shared just a few of the lessons learned by the Rollinsford teachers during the planning, implementation and documentation of their minigrant project on the effects of technology on fluency in primary readers. This blog shares some of what the Somersworth minigrant team learned, as well.
The Somersworth minigrant team consisted of 2 second grade and 2 third grade teachers, who enthusiastically embraced the idea of applying for funds-but it was a challenge to blend 2 grade level social studies content standards, into one technology infused unit. Their overarching technology goal was to learn to use the ENO interactive whiteboard. My goal: to expose them to some web 2.o applications that would allow them to communicate any time, any where. So we blended a traditional unit with a new, more tech integrated unit.
Each team of 2 classrooms received an ENO CLick, a digital projector, and a laptop capable of creating multimedia. The school also received Fablevision’s Animation-ish software for their laptop cart. The project, was to animate FLAT STANLEY to travel throughout the world to compare life in other countries to life in Somersworth (second grade); and for Stanley to travel back in time through historic Somersworth. The beauty of this project was that it was a social studies unit made better through the use of technology. And everyone involved learned so much more than was intended.
Lessons learned included:
Animationish software is very engaging and easy to use-and comes with many, many lesson plan examples-but the software needs some tweaking in order to be used seamlessly on our server. We needed to dowload copies to the local machine and log in locally in order to avoid clogging our network pipes. But we LOVE the program.
the ENO CLICK: we love how flexible and mobile it is-and how easy it is to move between classrooms, and the board itself is amazing! But the wireless reciver and pen need constant re-pairing, and are subject to random issues that prevent the pen from communicating with the board. Again, we love the product, but it needs some tweaking. We are still troubleshooting this and are trying to figure out when the problems arise.
EasiTeach software– this is the IWB software that comes packaged with the Polyvision ENO board. It is easy enough to use right out of the box, but the Content pack installs without a desktop shortcut, and the content is difficult to find.So far, we like SMART’s software better.
WIRELESS- We discovered the wireless setup in our elementary building is not suitable for whole class wireless use, especially int he afternoon. Part of this is due to the inadequacy of the access points, the other is our T1 line which is shared between 3 buildings. We really need faster, bigger pipes.
EDUBLOGS: We discovered that it takes an incredible amount of planning and patience to work with technology, and that some things work and others thing do not. Having set up each classroom teacher with her own Edublog, one teacher uses it as a class blog, while another teacher wanted to use it with 2nd graders to post their own “blog.” This required far too many steps for each second grader to be able to post their own blog; instead we decided to have students and families leave comments. We are still tweaking our Edublogs accounts-because we do not have enough storage to upload many pictures and video. We did learn everything needs to be compressed before loading.
OTHER LESSONS LEARNED:
Leave a second key to the closet where the mice are stored in case the secretary is out sick.
Kids can do a lot more than we think they can-they deserve technology that works.
It’s important to show kids that technology does not always work best-and it is important for teachers to learn alongside students.
It is okay to make mistakes and to not know how to do something.
And just as with writing, your work is never really finished or final-you can always make it better.
Teachers will be sharing their projects as part of the NH Minigrant Celebration the end of May. We will be happy to share the project documentary at that time!