Friday, February 6, 2015

Using Chromebooks in the Library, Janice Wellborn, Hernandez Middle School

I started January knowing that I would be seeing nine different classes of students, some of them once a week and some of them twice a week.  At the end of January we were scheduled for a new rotation of students so I was looking for a project that could engage all of them for a maximum of eight class meetings, and a minimum of four meetings. Clearly I would need to make adjustments so that not all classes were doing the same project.  I decided on a Martin Luther King, Jr. biography in light of MLK’s birthday.  Overall, I think the projects were pretty successful.

Students were told to first do individual research using the desktops and the Chromebooks. They were instructed to find biographical information on MLK.  Their results were submitted to me via Google docs using either of the computer types.

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Next, students were told to find another student or two (or opt to work alone) to research specifically what was King’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.   They were to identify speeches, protests, or organizations, that Dr. King had participated in. For this part of the assignment all students were using Chromebooks. Their completed research was added to one of their googledocs.

With the research complete, students were given the option to either make an iMovie incorporating five or more photos from Dr. King’s life, or to make a Google Presentation slide show of his life using the Chromebooks.  The difficulty in this assignment came when I found my class kicked out of our huge library space which is very conducive to making iMovies, and instead we had to put 30 people in a regular classroom trying to make movies at the same time.  The iPads picked up a lot of ambient sounds so that the movies were somewhat diminished. Many students at that point changed their minds from making movies to making slide presentations.

As we were at the end of our semester together, I noticed how much the students had grown in independence using either device.  The Chromebooks are very new to the kids, but they have used them in other assignments so they knew many of the shortcuts and tricks and  did not need much instruction. The students really enjoyed the independence of making products which they created by themselves.  I find as time goes on that my role becomes much more of a language arts teacher as I help them to edit and clarify their work, and they become so much more proficient and confident using the new technologies I have helped them to master. The only advice I would have for someone starting to use Chromebooks is to take the time to figure out a few shortcuts and the different methods of downloading photos, as there are some differences between desktops and the Chromebooks.

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