[Technology 950] Re: Handheld discussion day 3

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Marilyn Williams williams_ma at 4j.lane.edu
Thu Apr 19 15:10:45 EDT 2007

Hi Bonnie,
I'm disappointed to hear of the problems you've had with your Palm. Unfortunately, I really don't
know much about the different PDA type products on the market. The set I have were given to
me and I had no input into their selection. When using a program such as Inspiration which can
use quite a lot of screen space, I often have students switch to the outline mode where they can
hide or show subtopics and details. By doing this, they can focus on one area at a time. Also,
in the diagram mode, you can tell the Palm to fit the document to the screen. This will often
result in a screen which shows all the bubbles but makes it impossible to read the text as it's
gotten so small. When you tap on a bubble, the topic in that bubble is displayed at the top of
the screen. Certainly, it's not ideal and, sometimes, a larger screen will be better and then it
might be more beneficial to use a computer lab. So far, students seem to be able to work within
the constraints of the program.

When I said some students find writing 'painful', I was referring to the difficulty many of my
students seem to have with putting their thoughts down on paper. Sometimes, it's a
manipulation issue (holding a pencil correctly and staying within the lines). However, sometimes
it seems to be almost an emotional issue of being unwilling or perhaps, afraid, to share their
thoughts. Of course, I really don't know what's going on in my student's heads! The bottom
line, for me, has been that using the Palm seems to unlock many of my students' writing
capabilities and/or willingness to communicate in this way.

Thanks for your insight and comments,

Marilyn Williams
6th Grade Language Arts/Social Studies
Kennedy Middle School
Eugene, OR

----- Original Message -----
From: Bonnie Odiorne <bonniesophia at sbcglobal.net>
Date: Thursday, April 19, 2007 11:13 am
Subject: [Technology 940] Re: Handheld discussion day 3
To: The Technology and Literacy Discussion List <technology at nifl.gov>

> Hi, Marilyn, and all,

> I'm visually impaired, and have been delighted to know that I can use

> a Palm, because I can hold it as close to my eyes as I need to. I

> never bothered to learn graffiti, since I prefer the stylus. I do have

> a keyboard, but, again, have had no real reason to use it (I just use

> mine as a planner and a keeper of documents I don't want to lose, to

> back up my jump drive). However, I have gone through several versions

> of Palms because of technological problems. One I tried to use on

> another computer and it wouldn't do anything ever again. I tried

> everything. One just stopped hotsynching, and another had its on/off

> button break. Maybe I'm just hard on mine and these kids are way

> better at this than I am, but despite the correlation laptop/handheld,

> they're still not cheap, and if you're using a program as you describe

> that requires a lot of screen space, I'd suspect you'd need one with a

> color screen, good backlighting and resolution. I'd also like to learn

> more about students

> with disabilities finding it "painful" to write: could you elaborate?

> Best,

> Bonnie Odiorne, Writing Center Director, Post University



> ----- Original Message ----

> From: Marilyn Williams <williams_ma at 4j.lane.edu>

> To: technology at nifl.gov

> Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2007 10:07:53 AM

> Subject: [Technology 939] Handheld discussion day 3



> We’ve talked a little about some of the benefits, obstacles and

> outcomes of the Palm project but

> I’d like to expand on some of those today.


> I’ll start with the negatives. I don’t think it’s possible to use

> technology without running into

> obstacles! Something always seems to freeze or crash or disappear

> into Neverland! However, I

> think those situations have been pretty minimal considering how much

> the Palms are used. One

> problem is that if a Palm loses its charge completely, the

> information, and any new applications

> which you installed, will be lost. The way to get around this is to

> have students regularly

> HotSync (upload their files to another computer) their data and then

> it can be retrieved. This is

> a good lesson for students and does more to remind them than telling

> them over and over to be

> sure to keep their Palms charged. Palms do freeze on occasion and,

> again, if you haven’t backed

> up data, it’s lost. Sometimes, they can be reset and the info is

> still there but sometimes it’s

> gone. On the plus side of that scenario, a student can easily

> retrieve general information, like a

> worksheet or vocabulary list, from someone else. Palms are small,

> which is a benefit but they

> can easily be left on a desk, on top of the locker or in a pocket. So

> far, knock on wood, we’ve

> always had Palms returned to us. At this point, some of our keyboards

> are wearing out and have

> lost some of their keys. The stylus is also easily mislaid, misplaced

> or lost, as well.


> That being said, the benefits have far outweighed the obstacles, in my

> opinion. Those of you

> who work with students with learning disabilities have probably found

> that writing can be

> especially painful. I often experienced a lot of frustration on the

> student’s part in trying to get

> thoughts recorded. Then, after finally getting something on paper, any

> revision or editing

> suggestion which involved erasure or rearranging was very difficult.

> I found that students were

> much more willing to alter their writing when doing it in an

> electronic format. It’s much easier

> to copy and paste or cut and paste than it is to erase and remember

> what you wanted to write.

> Students also use colors to highlight places they want to reconsider

> which is an effective peer

> revision tool. One strategy we use a lot is to develop an outline in

> Inspiration (sometimes I give

> them the topics and they fill in the details and sometimes they come

> up with everything on their

> own) and then transfer the outline to Documents. Once in Documents,

> they just write their

> paragraphs from the outline that they can refer to easily. Then, they

> delete the outline and

> they’ve got a paragraph (or 2 or 3). Once written, their work can be

> beamed and printed and

> look just as good as anyone else’s.


> I think the Palms have really helped generate more equity in my

> classes. Sometimes it’s a not

> so academic student who is helping to figure out how to troubleshoot a

> problem. Every person’s

> work can be easily read and shared by others. Papers don’t become dog

> eared and left on the

> floor as they are all stored in the Palm. Some students, and their

> parents, worry about the cost

> of replacing their Palm if it’s lost or damaged. So far, we’ve only

> had to deal with this once and

> we had the student come in and do some kind of work for us at school.


> I hope you’ve gotten a glimpse into the potential of using these

> devices in a classroom. Please

> let me know if I can clarify or expand on any of the information I’ve

> shared.


> Thanks!



> Marilyn Williams

> 6th Grade Language Arts/Social Studies

> Kennedy Middle School

> Eugene, OR

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