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Collected from ISED-L List-serv 12/15/07:
In Cincinnati we were told about requiring students, before turning it in, to read their draft of a paper aloud, recording it on the laptop. They email the file to the teacher. Although the teacher rarely listens to the recordings, she is aware that the drafts are much improved in the process because the student finds things wrong and self-corrects.
Jenni Swanson Voorhees
Sidwell Friends School
Someone (my apologies to the person for not remembering who you are!) earlier this year described a great way to start the class using IM or Chat - the students were in small groups and had to "Chat" via the computer for about 5 - 10 minutes about the reading and then had to email the teacher a summary of the discussion. It sounded like a great way to get everyone (even shy students) instantly involved and connected in the reading. Maybe someone else remembers the exact details.
1. Book Cover project - this is covered in greater detail in Pamela's book. Students discuss visual imagery and symbolism in literature. They then design a cover for "their novel." They don't write a novel but decide what "truth" they intend to deliver through the story. They then have to design the cover for their novel. They get a little instruction in Photoshop from the teacher and go to it. When they are done a jury of peers or parents are asked to discern the "truth" from their book cover, without reading the book. The activity reinforces visual literacy, symbolism and imagery.
2. Ad Campaign - toward the end of the year, the class does an extended unit on persuasion (however, the power of language is a theme in the course). Students are put into groups and choose a real or imaginary product for which they have to create an ad campaign. Students create billboard designs, magazine ads and newspaper ads with Photoshop or GIMP, radio spots with Garage Band or Audacity, and TV commercials with iMovie or Kino. They present their campaigns to members of the local PR community who vote on a campaign.
With the 1:1 program, kids spend more time on task and produce higher quality work.
I'd like to add a story from Alex's previous school in Wisconsin where the Head of School (I believe that's who it was), who had been skeptical about having laptops in the classroom, had to last-minute sub for a teacher. Afraid that the students would be doing many other things than taking notes on their laptops he asked every student to email their notes at the end of class. When he started receiving their emails he realized immediately where the students needed more instruction and knew exactly what they did and did not understand from the lesson. I thought that was pretty powerful. I may not have the details right - sorry Alex - but you get the impression the experience had on that administrator.
One of the best advantages of 1-to-1 is that every child has all the resources necessary at his/her fingertips for writing, revising, researching, organizing, studying, etc. Also when I was at The Peck School we found students really "owned" their computers, they enjoyed organizing their work, they became better typists, and they were better students/writers/researchers. The decentralization of resources and the ability to do your work at any place, at home or school or your grandmother's, and the home to school connection and communication were also prime benefits. Plus there is a level playing field for all students - everyone has the same computer, everyone has the same resources (including teachers), no compatibility issues, homework can be assigned without a worry of "who has a computer? who has the software?" Here is a link to some language arts blogs
from Anne Davis. While not specifically about 1-to-1, these examples are about using technology, and when you add 1-to-1 to the mix it just deepens the
This is an approach I used when working as an English teacher, and on sites I have set up for other people, and it can work either as group chat or as a blogging
exercise (5 mins to write a post, 5 mins to comment on classmate's posts) -- Or, you can have students blog as part of the HW assignment, and open the class with
a comment session. This works on a variety of levels, as the process of reading their classmates blogs, and commenting on them, exposed them to ideas about the
subject matter that they might not have seen, which subsequently prepared them for a higher-level conversation (as the first few minutes of class time would have been spent conveying similar info). Teachers can also skim the blogs before class to get a better sense of where students are with their work. It's also worth noting that this strategy can work in any discipline, not just language arts. However, as Alex points out, this simply improves/streamlines something many teachers are
already doing. This becomes a more powerful tool when the effects are felt over time: better discussions nearly every day, more student-led learning (as students quickly realize that they learn from their peers as well as their teachers), and, most
importantly, a track record of what they have learned/thought throughout the year. I always loved having students read their September blogs in May. While 1:1 isn't necessary to do this, it certainly simplifies the process. I should also point out that my approach assumes each student has access to a blog and a chat application,
something I set up and ran in Drupal.