Archive for the ‘Hardware’ Category

The technology: Cellphones

My impression:

I’ll admit a bit of trepidation when I was considering this idea, but I’m glad that I finally decided to take the plunge. This little experiment has been, by far, the most well-received of my tech challenge. Almost all of my students have a smart phone, and those that don’t are very familiar with how to use them and were more than willing to share with a friend for the activities.

Classroom management with the phones was (and still is) a bit of an obstacle, but I’m going to stick with it because I can see the benefits and enthusiasm in the students.

Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:

  • Students can use their cellphones to access websites like StudyBlue (you can read my review here). One activity that I tried this week was to have students create flashcards in StudyBlue for their friends on a concept that they had learned (I teach french and used this as review for grammar. Each student was responsible for one verb tense that they created flashcards for and shared with the other students). They then worked in small groups, reviewing the material together and using the flashcards to assess their knowledge.
  • I used PollEverywhere (look for the review on PollEverywhere next week when I’ve had a chance to really try it out) software during lessons to ask students a question about the material. They texted the answer and I could display the data right away, so I knew if they got it.
  • I haven’t had a chance to do this yet, but I think I might try and use voicethread next week for some digital storytelling, allowing the students to use their cellphones to comment on the material.

Where can I learn more?

Some of the ideas for this post came from this blog


5 stars. I’ll be doing this again and integrating it slowly with my other classes.


This week I’ve decided that I’m going to try things a bit differently. Since it’s the start of a new semester, it seems to me to be a great time to bring out some new rules…. so I decided to try allowing my students to use their cellphones in class (against school policy- shhh!). It’s entirely possible that I may get in a lot of trouble over this one. However, I’ve opted to live by the saying “it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission” in this particular case because 1) it’s something that I’m willing to defend if confronted about it, and 2) I don’t think anyone will confront me about it anyway. I’m a bit of a rebel though, I’ve been letting my students listen to ipods for years (again- against school policy)

It’s very new ground to me, so I’ve had to establish some rules with my classes. I opted to start off with only one class to see how it goes, and so far it’s been going well. We’ve had a few little bumps along the road, but I’m generally happy with my decision and I think I might introduce the idea to another class next week.

Look for my full review of the experience on friday!

Google Earth

Posted: October 23, 2010 in Hardware, Websites
Tags: , , ,

When I first became interested in using technology in my classroom, I turned to Google. Anyone who uses the internet at all is familiar with Google and how they have revolutionized the way we use the internet. Any search engine whose name has become a verb certainly has my attention! I started off using Google street maps and Google maps, but when I started to crave something more exciting I followed the advice of a colleague and turned to Google Earth. The program seems to be getting quite a bit of attention in the news lately, mostly concerning issues surrounding privacy.

The technology: Google Earth

My impression:

Google Earth is a very rich program which my students have loudly proclaimed as “wicked awesome”. It is essentially a virtual map that uses images from satellites and aerial photography. There are many features including:

  • A flight simulator: Allows you to fly around and explore. A favorite of my students (especially when they discovered they could fly underwater).
  • Sky mode: Allows you to view the stars and other celestial bodies with remarkable images.
  • Historical images of select cities (a very cool feature for history classes)
  • The ability to view Mars, the Moon, and under the Ocean.
  • Street view: a popular feature on Google’s website that allows you to see panoramic ground-level images.
  • The ability to create tours of different locations around the globe (fantastic for all kinds of subject areas).

The main hurdle that I have encountered with Google Earth is teaching students how to use it. It is relatively intuitive, but there are so many aspects to it that it does take some time to learn. As a teacher I don’t want to use too much of my time teaching students how to use a computer program (I have enough to cover in the curriculum as it is). This program is worth taking a little bit of time out of your day to show your students though, since once it’s been taught there are so many different ways you can apply it to lessons across the curriculum.

Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas: There are so many possibilities for Google Earth it’s impossible to name them all. Personally I have had history students create tours of important places in specific events in history, gone on scavenger hunts to find specific places of significance to world religions, and had math students calculate distances from one place in the world to another. There are also obvious uses in geography. Richard Byrne has developed a great resource for Google Earth across the curriculum which can be downloaded here (his blog, also has a whole bunch of information on Google Earth and a range of other resources, definitely worth a look).


Where can I learn more?

Google Earth Download

A series of tutorials by Google

The Google Earth Blog

Google Earth for Educators

And of course, there are a variety of other resources for Google Earth on the web. Google it and see what appeals to you (see, I used google as a verb!)

Rating: 5 stars