Sunday, August 21, 2005

Introducing the Handhelds to Pride 13

School began and it was time to get into the routine of a new year and a new group of students. Thirty of our handhelds were on our campus, along with the wireless keyboards, Wi-Fi cards, and the Tribeam charging station. After reviewing beginning of the year routines with my class, I began to slowly introduce them to the handhelds. To start with, each student was assigned a specific handheld that would be “their” handheld for the year, along with a keyboard. To ease the use of handhelds by different students each year, I had created names for each, based on our school, the model, and a number. Each handheld started with SEB T5 and then a number ranging from 01 to 30.

When I first introduced the handhelds to the students, I passed out theirs and had them keep them on their desks. Then I held mine up and went through the basics of how to turn it on, how to use the stylus, and how to access the menu and programs. You could have heard a pin drop as I was introducing the information. I would tell students what needed to be done, show them on mine, and then walk them through it step by step while they used theirs. I think that was the only time I ever had to say something once in a classroom over the past 12 years and NOT have to repeat myself. Amazing what can happen, isn’t it? After the initial walk through, I invited my students to explore the Tungsten T5s.

Since our plan for the handhelds in year one was to utilize them to replace pencil and paper tasks, I taught my students how to use the FreeWrite program to do their journal entries. One aspect of FreeWrite I love is the spell check function. Unlike most word processing programs, FreeWrite doesn’t offer possible words to choose from. It only tells the user what words it doesn’t recognize and the user needs to determine the correct spelling of the word. This requires students to locate correct spellings from various sources, including dictionaries and spellers available in the classroom.

**Free Write is available from Go Know

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