Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Reading and Math Management Boards

Following on from my previous post about management systems, I had management boards for my reading and maths. These boards weren't managed by me but were managed by the children. Several teachers I work with are successfully using this system. The reading board looks like this.
There are a variety of activities for children to do and they all know what they are doing at this time of the day. The 'Reading Study' here stands for their Computerised activity. Before I send children off to do this activity I always demonstrate it first preferably by projector on a whiteboard.

Depending on how many computers there are is how I will organise the reading group. Two can share a computer, working on a activity together. Or if there is less computers available I might use my label management technique. This works very successfully in dividing up reading or math groups. This is an example of the maths board. There are 3 math groups, half of the math group goes on the computer and they have allocated labels, M for mouse,K for keyboarding, D for director ( they tell everybody what to do), O for observer (they stand quietly). The other half will do related activities in their books, or complete reading games.

My Maths task board looks like this with 3 groups, and I always demonstrate the activity with the children before I send them off to do it.

Another management technique I use is to have the childrens maths and reading group folders on the desktop. Children only go into their folder and there maybe only 2 or 3 activities available in the folder so that the children know that this is their folder and those are the only activities they can do. It is important that chldren know exactly what they are going to do, when they are going to do it, where the activity is and what their role is! That way everybody knows what they are doing and you are able to get on with the job of teaching children without worrying about what is happening in the computer centre.

Transferring Inspiration diagrams to Word or Pages

One of the lesser know features of Inspiration and Kidspiration is the 'Transfer' button. I find this a very powerful assessment tool for both teacher and student.

Once the student has finished their Inspiration diagram as in this 'Informational Report'

they click the Transfer button

WIndows computers will transfer this document to Microsoft Word, Apple computers will give you the choice of Word or Pages. Click on your choice. Click OK in the next window (if you are using Inspiration 8 or 9).
The Inspiration diagram transfers as a graphic. All of the text transfers into Word (or Pages) as editable text.Children can then manipulate the text (change font, size and style). Other graphics can be added.
This is a great assessment tool as the teacher can see what the student's original thoughts were illustrated in the Inspiration diagram and then they can see how they manipulated that information to publish the final piece.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Management Boards

To manage computers in a classroom you need to have systems in place. Why do you need management systems? Mainly for sanity reasons! If there are systems in place that monitors and manages the children's time and activities and the children know how to use them then this will make less work for you.
How many times have you had children come up to you and say
"I have fi
nished!" and then they wait for you to tell them what to do next
"I have nothing to do!"
"The computer's not going!"

"I can't hear the computer!"
"I can't find the game!"
or of course the fighting over the m
ouse and the keyboard. The first management board you should put in place is the Monitors Board. The rule is that 'you have to see a monitor before you see me' and if the monitor can't work it out they can ask another one until it is obvious if teacher help is needed at all. I like to divide my monitors into 3 parts of the day so that the same one is not being interrupted all the time. I always tested new games or programmes with monitors first before I showed them to the class, that way I could generally test out what things might go wrong and I could train the monitors up with how to deal with it.

This is my
Writing Task Board. Everybody starts Drafting together, and then gradually children start moving their name labels into the Proof Reading area, they complete all their proofreading tasks and then they move into the Drafting area. There is where the potential problems could happen and this is why you need a Writing Choices board.

This is where you can have a variety of choices to suit the different learning styles and intelligences. It is also a place to put in some computerised activities. I always have the classroom set up with lots of learning centres around the room and there is always a typing centre with old keyboards, laminated keyboards (see my website for downloads) or I will make use of old computers for keyboarding practice. I might also have a computer setup with spelling list or grammatical activity and these are always a followup to whatever I am teaching in the class.

For these types of activities you need separate management systems in place, this is where I find the Ladder sys
tem very useful. In this example all the children start off in 'Waiting for turn' and they transfer their name label to 'Had a turn' when they have completed their task.

Here are some more examples of these type of monitoring boards

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

'Do it instead of'...rather then 'As Well As'

'Do it instead of'...rather then 'As Well As'
That is my new motto. Part of the problem when integrating ICT into teaching and learning is that teachers are treating it as an add on! In some cases there are still classrooms that are operating with only one computer and/or another one barely working but most schools I visit nowadays have between 2-4 computers in their class.
Think of this
Instead of giving your reading or maths group a worksheet, create the worksheet in Kidspiration, Inspiration, Word, PowerPoint (or whatever you would like to use). Make one child in the group the mouse operator, one the keyboard, one writing on a whiteboard, one on a calculator or anything else you can think of, then the children can swap. You can have at least 3 children on one computer. So instead of writing on a worksheet they are working together using the computer.
Another example where this works well is in Art. Whatever the children are doing in art, someone can be doing the same thing using the computer. Artrage has pencil, paintbrush, crayon, felt tip and pastel tools. Experiment with the pencil and you can even do shading! A teacher on
ce said to me "we are doing weaving, how can we use the computer to create a woven pattern?" My answer was 'use Word or PowerPoint with autoshapes and colours'. Find graphics with textures and weave with them. Children will learn a lot of computer skills and use a lot of problem solving doing this type of exercise.

The other important thing to remember is that not everyone in the class has to do that same activity on the computer, maybe in art this week it is this group of children, next week it is another group of children with maybe a different computerised art activity and so on.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Computer skills and writing

I was talking to some teachers today about how to bring in computer skills while teaching writing.

  • Keep your laptop or computer close by to your whiteboard where you are modelling writing
  • when you are talking about capital letters, ask "How do you make a capital letter using the computer?" (Shift and opposite hand for the letter)
  • "What fingers do I use to make a full stop?" (ring finger on right hand)
  • "How do you make a space?" (one press on the space bar with your thumb)
  • whatever your teaching point is in writing think about how the children would need to do it in a word processor and make that a computer teaching point i.e. "What is a synonym for the word 'nice'?" (right click on the word and select synonyms in the sub menu)

Remember 'Whatever your teaching point is in Writing could also be a computer skills teaching point!'