Our school district is going to be rolling out laptops to High School students the end of October. I am looking for any ideas on activities teachers should do during the first few days. Thanks!

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I am starting my first year in a tech lab with new pcs. While my kids are younger 10-12 year olds.. they need a lot of practice saving and naming files.. working on the network. I suggest you do some simple projects in your word processor. You can teach some processor skills and at the same time practice saving files. I know it seems lame, but I would rather have them lose these simply projects than something more important later. They don't have to be that simple either, I am having my students type an "I am" Poem, I took thier digital picture and put it on the server, they are going to place their poems on top of the picture. It will take a few days, and there is lots of practice with Word, and with opening, finding files, and saving files.
Just saw the editorial your superintendent wrote about this - very impressive!

http://www.kansascitykansan.com/articles/2007/08/31/news/news2.txt

Superintendent's Corner: Trust our kids with laptops

(excerpt)
At the same time, I have come to realize this week that we have an even bigger challenge ahead of us, which relates to something I talk about in this space all the time: “belief in our students.” If you happened to read the online comments that followed the story in the Kansas City Star on Wednesday about the Board’s vote, you understand that not everyone in the metropolitan area believes in our students.

Now, I don’t have any problem with the comments from people who wonder if the district is up to the task of handling the deployment of laptops to more than 5000 students. It is a big job, and we are talking about public money, so we must be held accountable for how we spend it.

What makes my blood boil are the comments from people who don’t know our kids, who make deprecating comments about their reading ability, and about whether they will sell the laptops for drugs. Folks, this is racism, pure and simple, and our kids deserve better. Nobody who has been in our high schools, and who has spent time with our students, would make these kinds of comments. I don’t believe that these views represent a majority, or even a large part of this community. But when good people are silent, evil will flourish.

So I want to apologize to our students, on behalf of this community. High school students in KCKPS, you deserve better. You deserve to live in a community where, to paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., you are judged not by the color of your skin, but by the content of your character. You deserve a community that believes in you. I promise you this: I will work with all the energy I have, both to get you 24/7 access to the laptops, and to show this community what amazing young people you are, and why you deserve to have us believe in you.


WOW! Courageous!
PS - How about getting a student tech team established who can help teachers with these kinds of simple tasks that Greg outlined? Leaving it all to teachers will overload them, and reinforces the "teacher in charge" model that laptops are meant to alleviate.
Our school system is in its fifth year of 1:1 computing. Most teachers would prefer that they would have a class set rather than students having 24/7 access. The "dark"side if that students get around firewalls easily and use proxy sites as well as flash drives to access everything and anything. Attention spans are short and perusing the Internet is much easier than listening to the classroom drone. Teachers must understand what is blocked and isn't and why in order to prepare effective instruction and use of the laptop as a tool.

With this said, I would recommend that all teachers receive as much support as needed in the use of the laptop. They need to know how to work all the software that is available and they need help in using this tool for instruction. Teachers need to work in the back of the classroom in order to see what their students are doing. As a matter of fact, they need to walk around a lot which means that they need to see their role as a facilitator more than a traditional instructor. Rules of the use of the laptop must be set and enforced. A colleague of mine used a large red, yellow and green circle on the board as indicators of "laptop status". As students walked in the room, a yellow circle meant that the laptop was needed but should be on standby with the lid down, a red circle meant no laptops were needed and a green..well, you get the idea. Bottom line, it isn't just about searching and finding things on the Internet nor is the laptop a respository for worksheets.

Students, too, need help in using software. Don't presume that a digital native can put together an effective PowerPoint or PhotoStory just because. Elements of visual literacy/media literacy, etc., have to be taught. Internet safety is another issue. Cyberbullying will probably come up.

Be prepared for an inordinate amount of laptop breakage. Chargers will be left at home and batteries will be run down. Laptops will fly off desktaps and crash to the ground. Bookbags with their mega pounds of junk will crush an lcd screen. Hopefully you have this all thought through. Our onsite tech averages about 15-20 broken laptops daily in a school of about 1100. Things are worse after vacations, long weekends, etc.

I still believe in our laptop program and what a great tool it can truly believe. However, think about a bull in a china shop and things will happen that you won't even be able to believe...good and bad. I apologize if this post feels negative but your teachers have to take one step at a time with this newest tool. Administrators, too, have to understand that all the "good" doesn't work magically. 1:1 computing classrooms demand good instruction that is well planned and includes activities that couldn't be done without a computer.
Joyce D.
Thank you for all your comments so far! I appreciate any and all.

We have already begun to form a Student Tech Team. They went through a very brief training this summer and we are planning on another one this fall.

Thanks for the editorial excerpt. I was highly impressed with it as well!
Julie--from what the other posters say it sounds like you have your work cut out for you. I hope KCK isn't just throwing the hardware at you and not giving teachers tips on REAL integration. I love computers and spend at least 3 hours a day working on mine, but I'm not a kid. In reality computers can be a huge waste of time, as discussed in dozens of other forums, you have to choose the best tool for the job.

I agree with the ideas posted and have another life skill! As I say to my kids: "I have two words for you--file management". I have them rename doc and jpegs (by what they are) and save them in folders and subfolders. When I first started doing webpages I could spend hours looking for the perfect image that was saved "somewhere".

Other big issue---copyright and plagiarism. this 3 part essay is a fun way to start a discussion about those issues--
What I Learned About Being a Copy-Cat: A True Story

Good Luck with your new ventures! N.
Some of the issues we have faced in our five year 1:1 laptop have already been addresses. Students will break them, loose files, not have them charged, or be surfing while your teaching. They learn quick how to get passed blocked sites. Greg's suggestion was great, start with the basics. Logging in the first day or two will be a pain. Log in information won't work or file information won't be correct. Learn the basics about your system so you can assist the students and not rely on tech support.
The one difference that technology can make in a classroom is the teacher. You will need to teach totally different than you have in the past. Laptops are not expensive word processors, graphing tools, or subs for the library. Use them for more than that but take baby steps. Don't overwhelm yourself with projects as you and the students learn a new way for processing and receiving data. Your time teaching will be different. You'll spend more time looking and developing lessons and less time lecturing. There are thousand of sites to help with any subject matter. Spend time searching and yell when you need help. There's is a world of people ready to interact.
Start with some smart habits -
get students to routinely store files in a server location
establish groups of students to help with maintenance, training/support, and project support
give the students some freedom to explore while guiding them down project paths
encourage social interaction and try to connect with outside sources (both expert and peer groups)
establish clear acceptable use policy
Hi Julie, I´m working with Notebook-Classes and I focus on Web 2.0 apps.
First of all I recommend to organized a plan for In-Service-training regarding your colleagues: working with blogs and setting up class-blogs - working on a LMS or CMS platform like Moodle or Fronter - setting up wikis - organizing webquests and more .... a lot to do!!!!!!!!!!!!
Try to document all students work on a blog and try to find students becoming eTutors - not only for their classmates, also for teachers (maybe working on hot potatoes).
So - just a few things
Take care!
Hans

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