Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Handheld Integration (a look at the future in the present)

This is the third in a series of blogs dealing with the importance of changing the way we teach while integrating technology into the curriculum. In the previous blogs I discussed the importance of involving the students into the learning process and teaching the students to become self directed learners. In this blog I will present one way to achieve this goal that is exciting to the students and captures their interest.

Integrating handheld computers, formerly called palm pilots, into the curriculum can be exciting to the students and unsettling to the teacher, but as you will see very rewarding. I introduced handhelds into my classroom one and a half years ago. It has certainly been a learning experience.

From the beginning the students have been willing to do things on the handheld that they fight against doing with pencil and paper. They study harder for tests, take more notes, organize themselves more, and have the ability to learn through ways that can’t be accomplished in a classroom without them. I could go on and on, but here is a sample of what the students say about them:

I think handhelds are great! They really help you organize and they are WAY better than just paper and pencil. Brooke

Handhelds have helped me out alot this year. With handhelds we can study alot easier with quizzler. Also we can stay alot more organized with the programs tasks and calendar. We often take our handhelds home to use quizzler to study for our tests. We can practice our typing with the wirelss keyboards and a typing program called Words Per Minute. Josh

Handhelds are very cool and make school very fun. They make it easy to write assignments so you don’t lose them. They make it easier to study for tests and keep track of homework. Having handhelds in school is a big responsibility and it teaches us respect to expensive items. Without handhelds school would be boring and slow. If we didn’t have handhelds many of us would lose our writing assignments. Without handhelds our grades would be lower and we wouldn’t do well in school. Noah

Handhelds have helped me in school a lot compared to a classroom without them. Handhelds keep many kids organized knowing that their work is always there and cannot get lost. They are faster and a more improved way to check your work or spelling. There have been tests showing that kids get better grades and improve their schoolwork. When tests do come up, handhelds are a better study program when you practice on them. They do have games…. But, the games are also put into practice typing or spelling programs. The handheld can also be used for enjoyment. Such as, non-educational games or reading. A classroom without handhelds would be at a bit of a disadvantage. I am glad that I am in a classroom that has them. Emily

Handhelds have helped me work faster and easier. Jack

Handhelds have helped me this year by being able to do my work faster and more fun. Also, I do not go through as much paper because I can store information in my handheld. On the handheld there is a program called quizzler. This program helps me to study by the teachers beaming us the quiz. It has the practice quiz on it so I can study as much as I want at home. It makes studing a lot more fun and easier. This year would have been extremely different without handhelds because learning wouldn't be as exciting and tests wouldn't be as easy to study for. Austin

I think having handhelds is a privilege for several reasons. One because it keeps me organized. Another reason is that if you do an assignment on paper you could lose it, but if you do it on a handheld it will not get lost. Another is that with memos you can write anything at anytime. Also there is a palm reader that you can read books on it for reading or free time. Another reason is that there is a dictionary so you can look up words you don’t know how to spell or for there definitions. Also there are education games and games for free time or after a test if your teacher says. Those are some of the reasons why I like to have handhelds.

I’ve had two years of students using handhelds and the sampling of students above duplicates what they said last year, also. As I said in the beginning, using handhelds in the classroom is exciting to the students. Now how about the teacher.

One thing I’ve come to realize is that as in any technology integration I can’t begin to understand it all. The students learn it far faster and easier than us older folk. My job is to be the coach. I introduce the lesson, provide the tools, the parameters, and then let the students take charge of their learning. My job is to be the coach, available to guide at all times. This means I can’t sit on the sidelines (at my desk), but I must circulate among the students working with them.

This is certainly a different way of teaching, and can be unsettling if you are the type of teacher that stands up front and talks to the students. In the end you will find it rewarding and the students will learn and retain far more when provided the tools (handhelds) and teaching style (self directed learning) that makes learning exciting and rewarding to them. We may have learned the other way, but todays students aren’t us. The world is changing and we have a chance to be a part of the change.


Blogger Mr. Lummis said...

I have done some cool stuff using freeware and spreadsheets on handhelds in my class. I am very interested in reading your next article.

October 11, 2006 at 11:09 AM  

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