kitchen table math, the sequel: a student compares Kindles to laptops in the classroom

Saturday, September 19, 2009

a student compares Kindles to laptops in the classroom

I dislike that suggestion of many posters to provide netbooks to students instead [of Kindles]. I came from a high school with a laptop program. All students had an IBM thinkpad; because they were bought en-mass by the school there was a significant discount and students with financial discrepencies were subsidized. This was the largest mistake made in the school districts history. The laptops were misused and a distraction to the classroom. Even under our secured servor and protected internet connection, we as the student knew how to override the barriers. The focus left from using computers as a learning tool to a competition between students and faculty to maintain restrictions.

Keep it simple. Kindle is wise technology, with just the right amont of access for a classroom setting.

— Kelly

Democratic Group's Proposal: Give Every Student a Kindle

Simple is good.

No access to internet is good.

e.g., see: laptopsmackdown: What Are Your Students Really Doing?


Cheryl said...

I couldn't disagree more. What happened in the above classroom is the result of misuse and poor classroom management by teachers. Back when paper became readily available for student use, do you suppose people said, "NO paper! Stay with the slates! The kids will only use paper to write notes and make paper airplanes."

How can we teach responsible use of the internet, including the myriad of online tools available to students, without access to the internet? Where do YOU go when you need information? Do you go to a library and find an encyclopedia? I can't teach a student to properly research in the information age without internet access, period. A student who does something they shouldn't loses computer privileges immediately. It works. Whatever happened to discipline?

We have netbooks in my classroom. Student achievement in all areas of language arts went up by 24% last year, our first year using them. This was true district-wide Hmmm...

Cheryl said...

BTW, re. the "laptop smackdown" link: Would you want to write on a tiny screen like that? Where it's very difficult to see more than a few sentences at a time? I couldn't write a whole essay or report that way. We have a program that allows us to see every computer screen in the classroom on our laptop at once. I can even project it on the front board. In what kind of classroom does a student stare at a blank screen (per the laptop smackdown ad) for 20 minutes or look for pictures for an hour before an instructor notices in any case? Where's the teacher? That's not technology's fault, it's the instructor's fault.

OrangeMath said...

Try an alphasmart for writing - a kindle clone from Sony for reading. It all depends on who, if any, lock up the textbook market.

Computers in everyday classroom use are a disaster for indepth learning. PowerPoints are nice and they entertain, but ....

Cheryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheryl said...

OrangeMath, once again, it depends on how the computers are used. My kids use them for research and writing--we use a program called MyAccess. The kids write and revise with an attention that they never had using an AlphaSmart. (Yes, we used to use them.) You can hear a pin drop in my classroom when they are writing on their laptops. Also, I can embed comments in their online writing, giving me more capability for interaction than I could ever have time for during the school day, all without worrying about 9-yr-olds losing their drafts.

Our math program has an online tutor and games for reinforcement, if we have time. Social Studies has an online component where my ELD students can hear the text read aloud, quiz themselves on vocabulary, and do additional research and writing assignments for practice. I can differentiate spelling lists for each student, and they take them on a site Spelling City, which also grades the tests.

They didn't do or see a single PowerPoint presentation all year last year.

OrangeMath said...

What can I say: "I cannot even imagine being a great a teacher as you!" I teach in AltEd. The students will work fairly well with my vigilance and help, but redirecting them for poor surfing choices is a reward, and punishment is a treat - no work."

BTW I've found Smartmath very affordable and useful in elementary instruction. I'm not sure on IXL yet. Also, if students are writing and you give feedback, you may want them to try textflow.

Cheryl said...

Orange Ed-- I've had great training and software from an outstanding district IT program and grant moneys put to good use.

I don't think I'd want laptops in an upper-grade math class, which is probably where you are. I don't think I'm a better teacher than anyone else. (Heaven knows I have a lot to learn. That's why I read sites like this one.) I'm just saying--use of laptops in the classroom shouldn't be discounted just because they aren't useful in every classroom in every subject. In a 4-6 blended room where a teacher has to differentiate instruction for students from RSP to GATE all day long, they are a great tool, and their use helps make me a better teacher and my students better independent learners.

Thanks for the tips on Smartmath and textflow. :)

Allison said...

--I can't teach a student to properly research in the information age without internet access, period.

"properly research" is a meaningless phrase. "research" is a transitive verb.

research WHAT?

You asked where I went when I need information. First, I check my brain. If it's something I can work out or rederive, I sit down with paper and pen and do it. I know a lot because I read many many books. Second, I check the books. They are in my house, and I reread them. I own a lot of them--almanacs, maps, as well as fiction and nonfiction. Then if I that hasn't answered the question, I can use the internet, but that's because I know what I don't know. Most kids don't.

Mostly, though, I don't need to research every subject. I don't need to research most subjects, in fact. Secondary sources for a term paper in history? Primary sources for some geography? What else requires "research" on the web? And for whom? How often does a 7th grader need to do research for a term paper? How many times a month?

Classes that don't require research: Reading doesn't. Grammar doesn't. Math doesn't. Science experiments don't. Sure, art history is easier with the web than with an overhead projector of slides. But seriously, how often is any of this really an issue? A computer lab can't suffice?

Your point about classroom discipline is correct: we should enforce it. But it's easy to police who threw the paper airplane when you're looking at them. It's not easy to police the kids watching p0rn when they are looking at their screens, and you can't see their screens all at once.

Yes, it may be that in a classroom where you need to differentiate instruction, they are a boon. But the solution to that is to stop the madness that is differentiated instruction, not find more crutches to support it.

OrangeMath said...

Cheryl, I didn't know your grade level. Textflow is probably inappropriate - watch the 2 minute video. Cool. Our district won't use the management software you use. Our network is old - BUT SAFE - modern software is hard to make work.

There are many math software programs. ST Math is the best for elementary. I recommended because it's $1,300 for 300 users (if memory serves), not a bad price and it's pretty useful. I use it with my weakest students in high school! IXL doesn't have the sequencing that SmartMath has, but it is also is available for about $5 per user. My world is cheap - I use NComputing workstations to lower my costs even further.

LynnG said...

My kids do lots of power points. And they get to listen to annoying voices reading their text books to them over the internet. Slowly. My 4th grader "researched" a project last year. She had absolutely no clue how to evaluate the quality of the results she got in class. But that's okay -- she was doing research.

The district switched to a more "technology" friendly geometry book last year -- one with more links on the internet and projects with graphing calculators. Unfortunately, the formal proofs had to be eliminated.