Are You Ready for a Challenge?

Are you a steady blogger?  Always coming up with more ideas than you can possibly write about, zapping out regular posts to your readers? 

Well, I'm not. 

And when I do have an idea for a post, it never seems to get written.  Other things bog me down, or it seems that I let them.  And I'm always feeling guilty that I'm not a better role model for those I coach.  I know that if you provide regular content and read and comment on other blogs, you build your readership.  And that's what I want to model for others.  So I decided that I need to ramp up my blogging with a challenge.  A challenge to myself to blog regularly and a challenge to the teachers I coach to think about different topics to blog about and to provide posts that they maybe hadn't thought about writing about on their blog. 

So here's the challenge:  Write one blog post a week for 10 of the next 11 weeks.  Tag your post with "fallblogchallenge2010" and I will link back to your posts here as well.  I would love an email so that I know you're joining our challenge.  Here are the topics you can use, feel free to modify them to suit your needs.  I felt like these are things, as a reader, that I would love to know about any educator.

Are you ready to dig in your heels and accept this challenge?  I'm committing myself to being a better blogger and hope you'll join me.  If we're all in this together we'll be stronger bloggers and blog readers in the end!


Let's Get It Started!

Ready to get your students started working with technology?  Just like any new class year or procedure, you have to start with rituals and routines. 

This week I had the pleasure of working with some classes on the rituals and routines of using laptops.  After having some "aha" moments and tweaking as I went, I thought it might be worth sharing what I learned. 

Prepare the kids in advance with a lesson where you chart some basic expectations for getting out the laptops or entering the room where the laptops are located.  If they have to get them out, how will they carry them?  If they have to share, who goes first?  If you're in a lab situation, do they have assigned seats?  One thing that is unique to a technology lesson is that sometimes students will have to look at the screen and sometimes you want them to look at you.  How will you get their attention?  What do you want them to do to show you that you have their attention?  Put your hands up, hands on head, hands under legs...  Simple things but they make all the difference in a smooth lesson and positive experience for you and the students. 

I tried having students sit in front of their computers and follow along with me once and in another class we had them sit on the floor and went over procedures with a document camera.  I think the document camera worked better.  They were focused and motivated about learning so they could get their hands on the equipment.  We went over things like: power button, trackpad, left and right click, using the shift key (why you need it) and enter.  We played a quick oral game while they looked at the keyboard from the document camera.  I told them to say "shift" or "no shift" and called out things like:  capital M, question mark, dollar sign, comma. 

Once it's time for the students to put what they learned into practice you have to tell them what to do to access the internet.  Our pc laptops currently have internet explorer and firefox installed on them.  Our technology lab has macbooks with firefox and safari installed.  Tell the students which one to use, because later when you're giving instructions about opening another tab or a new window it is easier to have the same directions for all. 

For each class I wanted to have some kind of quick activity for them to do online to practice with the trackpad and for a fun ending to the lesson.  What I learned there is to check to make sure what you chose isn't blocked on the student wireless network!  I found a great science game with drag and drop labels on a diagram but it was blocked to the kids due to high school content.  Ugh!  Fortunately we were still able to do a quick keyboarding practice website they enjoyed a lot.  I think keyboarding is a great way to start and as we move into projects and activities they'll have these practice sites to return to if they finish early.  Here are some favorites:  Keyboard Climber, Keyboarding Games, Free Typing Game, Computer Lab Kids and Powertyping

I would love to hear some more ideas about what to do with kids the first few times they come to the computer.  Please share yours!