I thought I’d share a couple things I use in my classroom on a daily basis. My hope is that as people read this post they will be inclined to leave a comment and share something they use regularly as well. I’m focusing on hardware but that’s not to say everyone has to!
First up I would have to say that I use my SmartBoard an awful lot. That said I almost never use the “Notebook” software put out by Smart Technologies, the makers of the SmartBoard. I find I use it most with the my students for what it is, an oversized tablet stuck on the wall. It’s a way for us to Tweet together, blog together, research together, reflect on work together, etc. I know some people do really cool stuff with the notebook software and if you’re one of them please share an example!
The next piece of equipment kind of goes with the first but I think even if I didn’t have a SmartBoard I would still use a video projector. I honestly can’t think how teachers do without one of these! I think I’d be in big trouble if I was ever without one.
The next thing I really dig is my wireless keyboard. Now this really is something that is more a matter of convenience than necessity. That said it saves so much time over using the on screen touch type pad that I was using with our SmartBoard. It also allows me to sit back and let the students run the show. This is something that I’ve gotten used to and would be very hard to live without. Typing on a flat keyboard is much more intuitive for the kids and is a skill that they must acquire anyway. The on-screen SmartBoard keyboard is just too clunky and too often encourages mistyping.
Of course to even have a keyboard you would need a computer!! The computer I use was supplied to me by my school but it’s the same computer I would be using if I had to buy it myself. It’s a MacBook Pro running the Lion (10.7.3) operating system. (You can check out a short video highlighting the features in Lion here.) I have a dual screen set up which I find very useful as well. I use the dual screen set up for a variety of reasons. The first is that I find the 13″ laptop screen a bit small and I like to have a bit more real estate when working on projects that involve multiple windows. For instance, when I am running multiple browsers or working between multiple programs where I am taking something from one program (usually images, video, or blocks of text) and moving it to another. In addition the secondary screen is the screen that is projected on our SmartBoard. This way I can que things up (such as videos ect) and can drag stuff on and off the screen for the kids to see without having to dive through a bunch of stacked windows.
You can take this a step further with the multiple desktop feature and load up stuff on different desktops. With Lion it’s easy to three finger swipe between desktops. I also find this useful when giving presentations. You can load up specific things on different desktops and just swipe back and forth rather than trying to find the proper window among 5 or six tiled windows. As I said earlier this can allow you to load up videos or webpages that are ready to go.This is nice when presenting as it doesn’t allow a slow internet to mess with the “flow” of your presentation. No more sitting around to wait for a page to load, just swipe over to a different desktop where it’s already loaded. If you’re running a Keynote or a PowerPoint slideshow on your main screen you can swipe over to another screen to give specific examples of something from your presentation.
One thing that I came to use rather recently has been a lazer pointer. I know I know… those were cool.. in junior high. (Back when they used to call it junior high!) I actually find it very helpful. Since the wireless keyboard allows me to sit back and let the students take control of the SmartBoard sometimes I need them to navigate to an area of the screen that isn’t obvious or easy for me to explain. That is where the lazer pointer comes in. I can just point it out quickly and accurately. We had a couple lying around the tech office and I grabbed one a while back when I was heading to a conference to present. After I got back I had it sitting on my desk and thought I would impress the kids with it. I was like “hey guys check this out” and they were like “meh”. Even though they weren’t impressed I actually found it useful and now I use it everyday!
Play content from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch on your HDTV. Watch movies, play music, show off your videos and photos — even show what’s on your screen to enjoy games, web pages, and more.
I think it will be cool to have an iPad screen wirelessly thrown up on the Whiteboard. Now as the class watches on the big screen individual students can share what they are working on or how they created something or walk us through how they solved a problem right from their iPad. Sweet! What I think would be really really cool is if you could control the iPad using the SmartBoard as you AirPlay the screen.
The one thing that I don’t have that many of my cohorts use is a document camera. Those who use them seem to think they couldn’t live without them. Since I’ve never used one I really just don’t know what I’m missing. I think when my Apple TV arrives I am going to fashion a stand of sorts for an iPad so that I can use it’s camera coupled with the AirPlay screen sharing feature to use the iPad as a document camera. That’s the plan anyway….
What are you using that you couldn’t live without?