In my computer lab I have seven Flip video cameras, seven microphones, seven digital cameras, and seven tripods. No, it is not that I am obsessed with the number seven, it is that I am cheap.
Since I cannot afford a classroom set of microphones, cameras, etc., seven is the next best thing. You see, with seven items you can easily split the class into teams of around four students to do some digital work. In fact, I think I prefer to have the students work in teams rather than as individuals, not to say that I would say no to a classroom set of digital equipment. Remember that collaboration is a 21st Century Skills.
When it comes to buying school technology we have got be like NASA was asked to be ten years ago: “Work smarter and cheaper.”
My magic number seven works for everything from iPads and netbooks to digital microscopes and data-probes. Four students can share one digital device without a lot of drama (unless you work in a middle school).
So the next time that you are out begging for bucks, think about my lucky number seven.
I am currently reading the book Disrupting Class by Clayton M. Christensen and I am finally not feeling like such a freak. Let me explain…
The tagline to this book is: How Disrupting Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns. Which is what got me to buy the book in the first place and, I am happy to say, I was not let down. You see, I have always felt a bit like and outsider looking in, I want to try things differently, I hate the status quo. I want more, new and innovative ideas when working with school technology for students and teachers.
The premise of the book is that the way we learn doesn’t always match up to the way that we are taught. So if we want our students to be able to make it in the new digital and global economy, we need to rethink our understanding of intelligence. Which means we need to overhaul our educational system.
I believe the perfect place to start is with school technology, after all we’re expected to be constantly changing. If you are still teaching the same tech lessons that you did five years ago — it is time for a change. Every summer I look at my tech curriculum and throw out the old and add the new.
For example, a few years ago when I was teaching middle school technology and taught a lesson about social media, which at the time it was about MySpace. If I was to give that same lesson today it would be about FaceBook instead. If I was to teach middle school students about MySpace they would make fun of me: “MySpace is so 2008 Mr. Flick.”
What is innovative one year, can be a joke the next. So make sure your tech lessons are current and fresh.
Once when I was visiting a school they took me on a tour of their “modern computer lab” the students at the time were working on a worksheet about technology (for the record I hate worksheets) and one of the questions was to have the students label different computer parts, one of which was a diskette. Really — a diskette. Come on people, we can do better than this.
Tech curriculum should always be in a state of innovation and change, we must keep up with the times.Read More
I got an email yesterday from Jerry in Montana who wanted to know what websites I used on a regular basis with my students as part of my school technology plan. So from now on I will try to do this on Wednesdays with my “Websites I use” post.
The website that I want to talk about this week is Picnik. Picnik is a Web 2.0 application that is completely online. Students take a photo, transfer it to their computer and then upload it to a free account on Picnik. Once it is uploaded to Picnik they can alter and manipulate the photo a lot easier that other conventional applications like Photoshop.
Once students are done editing their photo, they simply download the photo back to their computer.
Although Picnik has a fun side like being able to make someone look like a zombie, it can be a photographer’s dream, it can do really beautiful work. Here some samples from a student’s photo.
No one needs more money than the technology program of a school. It is an never ending need, because even if you do get money to say; buy 10 laptops, those laptops will only be good for a few years. Every piece of technology you buy for your comes with an expiration date. So with this reality you need to be constantly looking for funding.
Here are a few things I do:
I video record every performance at my school, I then offer DVDs to the parents at $10 a piece. It costs me about $1 for each one so I make about $9. Since I usually sell 20 to 30 DVDs of every performance this has been making the tech department in my school quite a bit of money. Parents like it because they can just sit back and enjoy the show without having to watch it all through a viewfinder. In addition I use a tripod and a hi-fi shotgun mic to get the best picture and sound. You will need to get permission for any copyrighted material, let’s say your school is putting on Peter Pan, but this is usually pretty easy to get when you tell the copyright holder that it is a fundraiser for your school technology program.
Work with your PTO or PTA:
I love my PTO, they have been very generous to my department. When I get an idea for what I might need I sit down with the PTO to see what is possible. If they like what I am trying to buy, which will usually impact every student in the school like buying seven Flip video cameras, they go for it.
Apply for Grants:
Once a month I go trolling for grants, I look everywhere for any grant, big or small that I can apply for. I was able to get $2600 worth of LEGO WeDO this past fall from a grant that I applied for. Once you have the initial paperwork done for one grant you can do them all because they basically ask the same questions: “How will this improve student achievement?”, etc.
Charge Student Fees:
I charge $40 for the before school tech class that I have once a week for a quarter. I open this up for only 10 students but this one program alone brings in $1600 to help buy new school technology.
When all else fails, beg for help from the parents.
I hope this helps and inspires.Read More
Well I have had my iPad for two weeks, so now what do I think about it?
Truthfully, I am still amazed at how great this device really is. If I had to put a factor on it, I would say that the iPad is turning out to be ten times the computer I thought it would be, but there has been some disappointments, let me explain…
I have been buying apps like crazy, in fact I think I am addicted. Every day I check to see if there are any new apps that I might need (or not need). I do not like using iPhone or iPod apps on my iPad, although they do work and you can make them bigger to fill the screen, they just don’t look anywhere near as good as native iPad apps. So far there have been no iPad educational apps that I like. There are a ton of apps for pre-schoolers, things like shapes and letters, but I am yet to find any apps for my elementary-aged kids that I like — let me take that back there are a few…
National Geographic Atlas
That’s it, four apps. I am still looking for great math and reading apps.
I haven’t bought any books yet, I hope to buy a few this week. This is actually the part of using an iPad I am most excited about.
Nothing compares at how great the battery in an iPad is. I have used it for three days without recharging and the lowest I have ever gotten it to is 30%. Finally, there is a device that can last all day at school without recharging.
I didn’t really see this one coming. Everyone loves to come and check out my iPad when I am out an about. Kids to grandparents come over to me to see what it is all about. Who knew I could be so popular by just owning an iPad. Finally I am cool! I hope the honeymoon never ends.
I am now used to the on-screen keyboard and type nearly as fast as on a physical keyboard. I was going to buy the keyboard attachment, but now I wont.
I still believe that the iPad is a game-changer, it is truly a piece of school technology that could change everything for our students. This next week I am going to put it in the hands of students and see what they think of it and watch how they respond to it.