Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A Christmas Update

Suddenly we are on the last week of term and I am wondering (not for the first time) where the term has gone. The children are doing all sorts of Christmas activities on their tablets- calendars, cards etc. and excitement is mounting daily.
As we approach mid way of this session, it seems a good time to reflect upon the past few months of our tablet project. The tablets have brought with them a new dimension to our learning and teaching. We are able to explore new ways of finding out things without the pressures of shared resources and timetabling of computers. The children have embraced this new technology and have incorporated into their daily classroom routine - it is scary how quickly we can take such luxury for granted!
There have been blips over the past few months - computers wouldn’t run without them! Storage and charging has been a bit of an issue. Safety has been a concern of mine with regards to trailing charger leads. I have also been concerned about safe storage of the tablets, ensuring each tablet and its associated bits and pieces are kept in a suitable place. Our charging and storage unit has taken forever to arrive! Our hopes were raised briefly about two months ago when a unit arrived, but it was so badly damaged that we had to send for a replacement. Never mind, hopefully Santa will have delivered a new one for when we come back!
The tablets don’t run as smoothly as the Applemacs we are used to. Sometimes the children can become frustrated by frozen screens. This may improve as the children learn more self help skills and avoid bad habits.
The children and I are looking forward to the next term to see what else we can do with our tablets. Meanwhile, we are off to enjoy Christmas!!

Monday, December 20, 2004

An Interesting Point

We recently used the tablets within an RE activity. The children were to design a poster advertising the value of Jesus’s parables and they had to use Zacchaeus as an example. I was using this activity as an assessment of the work we had covered on the parables of Jesus.
The children completed their posters and printed them off and I was very pleased with their hard work. Yes, they were colourful and yes, they were fairly well laid out, but I knew the tablets would enhance the appearance of their posters. What I didn’t expect was the quality of the contents of each poster. I told the children how pleased I was with the posters and we discussed why the activity had been so successful. These were the childrens’ answers-
-the tablets have every colour we need
-the pens can go as thick or as thin as you want
-you don’t need to go and get different pens
-the pens don’t run out
This meant that the children could remain focused on their activity without being distracted by fetching coloured pens etc. The motivation was also there because of the variety of colours available.
I found the points raised within this activity very interesting. Up until now, I underestimated the knock on effect the graphics side of the tablet would have on the childrens’ learning. I regarded having a wide range of colours and pen widths as being an attractive add-on, but now I can see that this facitlity enhances the quality of the childrens’ learning.