Well, we continue to purchase more and more Chromebooks. We support about 100 now, but I definitely see that number growing next school year exponentially. I mentioned in previous posts we were looking to supplement existing desktops throughout the district, and we are beginning to realize benefits from them. For instance, a Freshman English class uses a group of four to type, edit, revise stories in Google Docs. A fourth grade class in another school uses them with the Google Maps for geography. They definitely possess limitations, but to supplement existing technology, providing more accesibility to students, we have found them to be quite legit. Our state Department of Public Instruction just alerted us that they will make sure the end of grade and course tests will work with the Chromebooks, as many Counties in our state are using them. Is this the future?
While my school system (and hopefully yours!) celebrated Internet Safety Month in February, we all really need to work on this year round. Whether at home, at church, or at school, we need to inendate our students and children with opportunities to discuss how to stay safe online. As I work toward clearing out my Google Reader and exporting it to Feedly (see about Google’s decision to kill off GR in an upcoming post), I came across a great resource, Planet Nutshell. Similar to the Common Craft videos from years back, Planet Nutshell makes nutshells on a variety of topics. They also look to monetize videos, but in some cases, they make videos for educators. Online safety is one such topic, and if you view the preview video I attached, you can go to their site to find even more. Good stuff!
I head to Downtown Raleigh today to kick off the NCTIES conference. Well, actually today is pre-conference sessions and meetings, but I will head to Raleigh nonetheless. This conference has definitely changed over the years. From its initial ‘smaller’ style when competing with the Fall NCETC conference to becoming the only technology conference in our state, we have seen the good, bad, and probably not much ugly. Nice to have had it in Raleigh the past couple years. Makes travel much easier!
Through the years, we have seen quite a variety of things from this conference. I presented in the past on Linux and open source, as have many others. Now, though, it’s dominated by iPads. Not too much Android, but a little. More and more gaming sessions as well as focus on the Common Core. This year too the conference organizers decided to get away from the printed schedule and just offer a downloadable pdf or an iOS or Android App. Pretty excited about that for a change.
So who does not like games? Especially in a school. I remember teaching, using wastebasket basketball for spelling practice. Now in the 21st Century, everything is digital. With our annual state technology conference (NCTIES) coming up, of course we get innendated with offers from vendors. One, though, pieked my interest. The Teacher Gaming Network (app.teachergaming.net). On the site you can create a variety of games for your classroom. Things like Case Chase (Deal or No Deal), Classroom Feud (Family Feud), and Elevator Madness. So to get the ball rolling, you need an account. Once you set that up, you need to either broswe through existing games and questions or create your own. Certain games take certain types of questions, obviously, so pay attention! I just searched through existing games and found one on the Dewey Decimal System (exciting, I know!). so then you can actually play the game. Creating games isn’t too tough. Definitely some interesting promise here. Maybe not from the standpoint of a teacher creating all these, but maybe by him or her dividing topics up and letting students create different games.
We recently had our CTE (Career Tech Ed) Department purchase five Samsung 7.0 tablets. They asked me to load some apps, so I explored the Play store. With CTE, you have such a wide variety of areas. You have your business courses. You have your technical courses, like masonry and welding, and then your agriculture classes. So I explored around and found a decent set of apps. One thing I do not do enough is just explore the Play store. Lots and lots of good apps, and adding new every day.
For our business teachers, I installed a series of MS Office tutorials. While not the most interactive thing, I figure they use this and the tablets would be a good way to review. Interesting that some of these are Goodwill Foundation apps.
For our technical, tools are always a good thing. Smart Tools offers a great series of things like rulers, levels, sound tools, and more.
Of course you can always use the camera and other built in tools. But the point is you really can load anything for any area. We hope to now get them to use these more interactively. Small steps!!