[Technology 945] Subject: RE: handhelds day 2

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Mariann Fedele MariannF at lacnyc.org
Thu Apr 19 14:26:20 EDT 2007

The following question is submitted on behalf of Mike Moyle:


Thank you for sharing with us. Our fifth grade has used Palms for
several years. They are used primarily for writing but also for math
facts, organizing assignments, drawing with Sketchy, and understanding
tessellations. The teachers are about to use them with paam.goknow.com
Internet so the student can sync with that site when their homework is
done, and the teacher can instantly see it.

Our school is considering 1-to-1 technology with tablet laptop computers
for grades 7-12. The teachers were each given a tablet and four days of
training this summer.

I'm trying to decide whether handhelds or tablets are the better way to
go for Lower School. You've identified the cost factor. If that is the
primary driving force, the handhelds probably are the best bet. I do
worry, though, about not having access to the connectivity with the web
and the ability to create through programs like PowerPoint, Movie Maker,
etc. It seems that the handhelds have a very narrow focus of abilities
compared to a laptop or tablet. I don't know, however, if this is a
completely accurate view. I'd love to hear more about that.

I was interested to read about your project with creating governments.
I keep thinking that the technology is only a tool, and it's extremely
important to make sure we are using it in a way that is helping students
think at higher levels, make connections, and be creative.

Mike Moyle
Lower School Director
The Principia

-----Original Message-----
From: technology-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:technology-bounces at nifl.gov]
On Behalf Of Marilyn Williams
Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2007 9:19 AM
To: technology at nifl.gov
Subject: [Technology 936] handhelds day 2

Hi all,
Thanks again for participating in the discussion today. Please send me
any comments or questions as I'd love to establish a dialogue with you!

As it closer to school starting and despite two full days of training, I
was still feeling apprehensive about starting the Palm project.
Nonetheless, students were back at school a week later and I had to be
ready to go.
Our first day, I introduced the fact that we had the opportunity to use
the handhelds and explained that everyone would need to take home the
permission form and have it back before we would begin to use the Palms.
I thought this would give me a week or so of breathing room!
Of course, they all came back the next day! So, taking a deep breath,
we jumped in.
Those first few days were a little chaotic! I did have some basic plans
developed but, for the most part, we played. We experimented with
different functions and sent messages to one another. We also saved our
work and set up categories (or files).

One of the most helpful pieces of equipment I used was a FlexCam. This
is a camera that has a flexible neck that can be bent to show whatever
the teacher is working on. They are often used in science classes so
all the students can watch a teacher do a dissection or other
This allowed me to demonstrate which buttons or icons to tap and how and
where to enter information on a screen. It really was (and still is)

Our first lessons were basic how to enter information. We played with
writing Graffiti, using the built in keyboard as well as the external
keyboard. A fun game to use when learning Graffiti is called Giraffe.

As we all became more proficient, I started using the Palms in 'real'
lessons. At first, it was a stretch to think of how I would use them
but as they became part of my repertoire, it was second nature. One of
the earlier projects we did was on government. I divided students into
groups and their task was to create a society. Each group had a set of
categories to address such as school, laws, justice, economy etc. Each
student worked on their section then everyone beamed their portion to
each other so the entire group had everyone's work. This was a great way
to keep them organized and if anyone lost their work, they could easily
retrieve it.

Daily, we used our Palms for silent reading responses as well as a unit
on word parts. We kept a list and definitions and examples of literary
terms and devices. We wrote poetry which worked great as I beamed
everyone a template and instructions and then they could work
I know I keep mentioning beaming and I should perhaps explain this
function. This allows a person to just point their Palm at another
Palm, tap 'Beam' and the data is transferred from one to another. After
a bit of practice we got so we could beam a piece of data to everyone in
the class in the same amount of time it would take to pass out papers.
I would beam to one student, they would beam to another while I got
someone else started etc.

It was important for us to organize the Palms in a way that they were
easily accessible so I set up a series of small drawers which contained
each person's Palm and keyboard. Students were responsible to make sure
their Palm was charged and available and, for the most part, this worked
well. If someone forgot theirs at home, they ended up having to use
paper and pencil and that was usually enough deterrent that it wasn't
left at home again.

The biggest advantage of Palms, for me, was the way it leveled the
playing field, so to speak, for all my students. I had taught some of
these students since sixth grade in a resource (pull
out) block and had never been able to get them interested in writing.
Now that they had this tool and the example of their peers, they became
much more engaged and I was so pleased with the progress they made.
They felt much more positive about themselves as learners as well.

Fortunately, we had a class set of Palms so everyone had access. In a
setting without a class set, I might establish a 'Palm learning center'
as part of a rotation. At that center, I'd probably have assignments
listed and have students work in a more individual way. It certainly is
more difficult to incorporate any kind of technology when students have
to share.

So far, we've lost only 1 handheld over 3 years!

Marilyn Williams
6th Grade Language Arts/Social Studies
Kennedy Middle School
Eugene, OR
National Institute for Literacy
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Mariann Fedele

Associate Director,

NYC Regional Adult Education Network

Literacy Assistance Center

NIFL Technology and Literacy Discussion List
32 Broadway 10th Floor
New York, New York 10004
mariannf at lacnyc.org

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