A laptop to call my own

I’ve been trying to teach for the last 3.5 weeks without a laptop. I love using technology so this was quite the exercise in going old school for me. I’ve had a teacher laptop and SMART Board since my first time having a contract position so I’m not used to teaching without technology like this. But we made it through, even with my not so great, slow handwriting on the white board and my not always understandable drawings, we’re back to me being able to type out our morning messages and accompany them with pictures and drawings to explain words. We’re back to being able to play games as a group on the smart board and to watching French videos and songs on the internet.

And now I can look forward to doing things that I haven’t tried before. For example we used Plickers for the first time the other day. It’s an interesting way to quickly (relatively quickly) poll the class on a topic or do a quick quiz to check for understanding. It’s kind of like the Sentio machines that hook up to our smart board somehow (I’ve never used them because they’re too complicated to set up in my opinion for what they can do) in that you create a list of questions that are either multiple choice or true or false questions. The questions can have one right answer or more than one or an opinion question with no right answers. The students hold up their cards with the letter that they think is the answer on the top of the shape and then I use my phone to scan the class and then whether or not they have answered the question shows up on my computer.

plickers

Stock photo – This is not my class.

We tried it out on Thursday and on Friday to see how well it works. It worked pretty well. I did one opinion question and then 4 multiple choice questions. What I liked about it was that it is relatively easy to start. Students don’t need to sign in to anything or remember passwords or anything like that. Once they got over the excitement of trying out something new and seemingly magical because how on earth can the computer recognize their shape verses everyone else’s and the position it’s pointing in, they did pretty well holding up their shapes the right way. We learned a few things like, if any part of their shape is covered by a finger, it isn’t recognized or if it’s back-lit by a window or anything. The other thing I would like to streamline is the passing out of cards. With 28 students it can take a while. I think eventually the students will know their numbers and that will help speed up the process. I’m excited to try it out for things like opinions on, for example, which novel read aloud should we read next?

The other new thing I’d like to try out this year, speaking of novels, is the Global Read Aloud I have no idea how it works exactly yet but the concept sounds interesting so I’d like to give it a try. That and Mystery Skype for Schools. I want to try to connect more with the outside world in general this year in our classroom.

And of course, having a teacher laptop means that it was much easier for me to type up this blog post tonight. Hopefully this will mean I’ll be able to blog more often now as well.

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