Monday, May 08, 2006

SKETCHY Madness

Go Know announced it's annual Sketchy contest a little while back and it was something I definitely wanted to do with my class. When I told them about the contest, they couldn't contain their excitement. Of course, hearing what they could win was a wonderful motivator. LOL.

When we started talking about the Sketchy idea, we brainstormed what ideas would fit well under the various subject areas. The majority of my class's ideas dealt with math concepts. I must admit that they really were paying attention when I taught this year. Many wanted to complete their Sketchy on how to complete something in math. Some ideas included adding and subtracting fractions with like or unlike denominators, adding with regouping, basic division with our without remainders, finding the median, etc.

I had a wonderful assistant with the Sketchy idea, Rhonda Drum, our Technology Goddess at school. The Sketchy started with students listing the steps for their concept on notebook paper. From there they transferred their information onto a storyboard where they could draw basic pictures of what would be represented on their Sketchy slides. Then the final phase was actually putting it into the Sketchy program. I shouldn't have been surprised when students started devising shortcuts and began sharing ideas with each other. Although they would be competing for the same prize in the contest, that didn't even occur to them as they helped each other when questions arose. It was a truly wondeful experience to take part in. I just sort of became the final checker when they "thought" they were done. I'd just sit back and say things like, "Did you check your spelling on slide 34?" or "When you look at your animation do you think it should be slowed down some?" It was terrific!

Of course, technology being technology, one can always expect something unexpected to happen. It started when I couldn't synch some of the files to PAAM at GoKnow. I started beaming Sketchy files to other handhelds so I wouldn't lose them in the craziness that was going on with my Hot Synch. On Wednesday, May 3, 2006, one of my students put the final touches on his Sketchy. We synched it to the laptop, but when we went to view it online, it wasn't there. When we checked his handheld, his Sketchy was GONE! It was nowhere to be found and we freaked! Luckily, I had his earlier version on my backup handheld and beamed it to him. He sat there and redid the Sketchy again. When we synched it, it DISAPPEARED AGAIN! We didn't rant, rave, and scream although that might have been a good idea. I beamed it back to him, he redid it for the third time, then I beamed it to my backup handheld. I thought it may have been a problem with a previous version of Sketchy, so when I went to synch his handheld this time, I indicated that I wanted to reinstall the program. Well, whatever I did worked and his Sketchy finally uploaded. What a relief! I couldn't believe how patient he was with what happened. What a wonder!

Our final Sketchy files were uploaded on the due date, May 5, 2006. Now, we're waiting to see if an email or phone call comes in on May 12, 2006, to inform us that someone from the class has taken a prize in the contest. I really think some of my students have a good chance of winning. It's just unfortunate that they are literally competing against each other.

Their Sketchy files are remarkable! I plan on using some of their work to help teach the concepts next year. I can just see when I begin introducing multiplication or division. I will beam the Sketchy to my students and ask them to review the information. They'll then have the file to utilize when actually completing activities in those areas. It will be great! I was really happy that students were able to take what they learned and can now become the teachers of the future with their Sketchy.

All that is left is for me to play with the files, follow the directions I was given by GoKnow, and successfully manage to upload the files so that viewers to my website can view the Sketchy files created by my students. I'll make sure to post a link when that happens.

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