I am writing this as part of a class assignment. My mission (whether I chose to accept it or not) was to conduct a web search of a classroom technology of my choice, then I was to list three ways of integrating the technology with classroom teaching, add some ideas of my own, and list any other technologies that would be needed along with the one I chose to research.
I chose to research mini laptops, simply because I don’t know very much about them. Apparently, there are teachers that use them with very young children to teach things like phonics and spelling, and for classroom management (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYrVY4uZKsM ). When the children cease to pay attention, the teacher merely freezes the computer, and a message flashes, saying “Eyes to the front, please.” It’s quite brilliant.
The teacher also used the laptops in conjunction with the Activboards to teach Geography and Social Studies. The teacher can put what she is doing on the laptops, and the children can interact with the lesson. The children were able to create their own representations of the island about which they were learning. Then, they created geographical and sociological landmarks on the maps they had made. She also had the children learning to use important technologies like Google.
I found it somewhat humorous that the teacher felt that Google is an important technology that her students will use well into their adulthood. Google, really, is less than 20 years old, and there is no guarantee that it will last 20 more years. Technology changes rapidly, and in the same manner that we thought the CD and the DVD would last forever, something more exciting (like the MP3 or BlueRay) may well come along and leave Google eating its dust.
If I were to use a mini laptop in the classroom, I think I would use it to hone keyboarding skills. The basics of typing are increasingly important to today’s children. However, it would seem that typing has made cursive writing obsolete, by many educational standards. This, in my opinion, is inaccurate. My niece is in the fifth grade, and her school has not taught her how to read and write in cursive. As a result, when she receives a birthday card or a letter from an adult, she cannot read the handwriting – even if it is very neat - because it is in cursive.
Because of this problem, I think I would have my students look up historical documents (e.g., The Gettysburg Address, The Declaration of Independence) and try to decode them. I would have my students type out their translations of the cursive writings, and use that as a springboard for learning at least a little cursive. It would also make for a good study about the variations that can occur when translating from one language into another.
To implement this, I will only need an internet connection, Microsoft Word, a writing tablet and an instrument for writing. This is a very simple activity, if only given the time to accomplish it.