Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Teach With A Light Saber

My school has made a serious commitment to equip our classrooms by providing us with some amazing technology, of which, one of my favorites is our new light saber. It doesn't just slice and dice Stormtroopers; it keeps students from turning to the Dark Side. OK, the light saber wasn't actually purchased by our district; it was a gift from one of my students last year. And although it looks and sounds real, it can't really slice and dice. Dang it. And it won't keep kids from turning to the Dark Side. Double Dang It!
My truly favorite device of all is my wireless pad. It's a tablet that uses wireless (Bluetooth) technology and a stylus which allows me to stand anywhere in my classroom and control my computer (which is projected on the board). It has successfully kept me from having to stand in front of the white board during direct instruction. But alas, today, my pad's battery died, and I was forced to go "old school" on my kids. I had to stand at the board. It felt so awkward. Here are some tips if this ever happens to you-- if you're goingto stand up at the board to teach, at least follow these simple rules:
1) Don't stand there too long. No one wants to stare at your back side as it shakes and waddles while you write a bunch of information up there. I had this one teacher when I was a kid, and her large rear end shook like a duck; it was the funniest thing I had ever seen. Don't be the butt of your kids' jokes by shaking yours. Get up there, write it down, and get away from it.
2) Use a light saber. OK, it doesn't have to be a light saber, but use a fun, unique, interesting pointing device whenever possible. Change it up all the time. Get a cheap laser pointer and switch out the caps. I was at a flea market and found a laser pointer with over 100 different caps you screw on for only $2. There were shapes from animals to UFOs. No one could ever predict which one I'd use next.
3) Get the kids up out of their seat. Invite your students to work problems out on the board. While they are up at the board, move around the class and use your proximity (distance from students) to keep students from going off task or losing interest. The students need to interact with the board, so design lessons that require them to get up there, tap an icon, write a word, slide a reveal icon, or pop a balloon.
4) Charge your wireless pad every night. This whole ordeal could have been avoided had I simply plugged in my wireless pad before I went home for the weekend. So, before shutting off the lights and driving home, check to see that your pad is hooked up to power.